Hollister’s Enterprise Academy of Martial Arts hosted its second Thanksgiving Basket Brigade the weekend of Nov. 21, raising funds with a student performance to bring food to local families unable to afford a Thanksgiving meal.
Instructor Mark Preader, who owns and operates the academy, got the idea for the basket brigade from his friend John Geyston, who runs his own martial arts academy in Springfield, Illinois.
“He has been doing this for several years, and I just saw it one day and was inspired to do the same thing,” Preader said. “He called it the exact same thing, the Thanksgiving Basket Brigade, and he gave me all the information I needed to get started.”
The brigade raised its funds at a Kick-a-Thon event put on by Enterprise in late October.
“Just like a jog-a-thon or anything like that, students received pledges to do a certain number of kicks in the time allotted,” Preader told BenitoLink. “We raised $4,000 this year, which is twice as much as the first year.”
The money went toward purchasing traditional Thanksgiving food—turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, canned vegetables, sweet potatoes and dinner rolls. Each basket is intended to feed a family of four. And while the basket brigade fed 70 families last year, this year 200 families will receive baskets.
On Nov. 21, the brigade gathered at the martial arts academy at 817 Industrial Drive in Hollister to fill baskets on a makeshift assembly line. Volunteer Adriana Ferry, a mother of two Enterprise students, served as basket coordinator, and volunteer dad Scott Mead put vegetables in each basket.
“We’re involved because we think it’s a great way to give back to our community. We’ve been so fortunate, to be able to continue on with martial arts throughout this pandemic, that it’s time to give back,” Ferry said.
Mead expressed approval of Enterprise’s public service. “Not only are they a small business in our community—they should be helping out the community—they definitely do their part, and it’s nice to see that they’re doing this, especially in the time where we’re at now.”
Ten-year-old volunteer and martial arts student Hayden Razo said he volunteered because he “just thought it might be helpful.”
The brigade teamed up with Community FoodBank of San Benito to distribute the baskets on Nov. 23. While volunteers dropped baskets off at individual houses last year, the practice changed this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Families are now contacted directly and asked to pick up a basket at the food bank.
“We rely on our community. Community is in our name, so having groups like this help in that way is pretty cool,” said Sarah Nordwick, community engagement and development director at the food bank. It’s all the basket brigade’s initiative, she said. “We’re just here to be the vessel. They are the ones making it happen.”
Asked about the meaning of Thanksgiving, Preader said, “It means giving unconditional value to others, which we teach our students is to give and not expect anything in return. Give because you’re able to give, and just be satisfied that you’re helping others who need it most.”
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