SANTA BARBARA, Calif.— For the 13th year, martial arts students along with their parents and teachers prepared over 200 Thanksgiving baskets.
“You pack a bunch of like turkeys. And potatoes and all the Thanksgiving meals and you give them to families that need it,” said martial arts student and volunteer Abby Almroth.
Every basket included a frozen turkey, pies, bread rolls, canned vegetables, and much more. It could easily feed a family of five.
“Stuffing, cranberry butter, everything. The only thing we're not providing is the oven,” said Owner and Head Instructor at Santa Barbara Dojo Master Wilfred Austin Curtis.
For many of the younger students, packing the boxes was a lesson in strength and perseverance.
“They're heavy. They hurt your hands. But it feels really good to help people,” said martial arts student and volunteer Abby Almroth.
The community building that unfolded mirrored many of the teachings the Santa Barbara Dojo imparts to their students.
Kelly Almroth, Dojo Mom/Volunteer
“ martial arts is about self-control, and martial arts is about respect. Martial arts is about perseverance, it's about integrity. It's about being courteous to the people around you and being a part of a community. And what I've loved for my children here at the Dojo is that they're learning those not only in that on the mat in relation to their sport, but they're learning it in the classroom and at home,” said Dojo Mom and Annual Basket Brigade Volunteer Kelly Almroth.
At the heart of it, the event opened up the eyes of the more privileged families to a harsh reality.
“ Food scarcity is a real thing. And we often don't realize that the friends that our children are playing with on the playground go home to a food scarce home,” said Almroth.
Events like the Basket Brigade play an important role in addressing food insecurity in Santa Barbara.
Since its inception, staff and students have fed over 10,000 people through the program.