Brigade Aims to Feed 1,600 Families Next Week
The annual Basket Brigade donates gift baskets with a complete holiday meal, toys and books to families in need in Sarasota, but it needs your help to feed 1,600 families.
Rod Khleif of Sarasota has fed more than 1,500 families during his Basket Brigade since 2001, and now he needs your help to feed 1,600 this month alone.
“If they can afford it, buy one less toy for their family and feed a whole family,” he said.
Khleif, founder of the Tiny Hands Foundation, is putting out a call for volunteers and donations to help his mission. It only costs $28 to feed a family of four, he said.
The Tiny Hands Foundation’s focus is the annual Basket Brigade, where volunteers deliver baskets with gift cards for a turkey or ham, as well a complete meal, and toys and books for the children. Cliff Bar has donated at least two pallets full of energy bars to help out, he said.
“We remain anonymous, we deliver the baskets, and there’s a note attached,” he said. “It says, ‘This is from someone who loves you. We only hope that you can do it for someone else one day.' ”
Volunteers can show up at 9 a.m., Dec. 17, at the Boys and Girls Club of Sarasota, 3100 Fruitville Road, to help wrap baskets and deliver them to families in need. To volunteer and/or to donate, call 343-8023.
Khleif has paid out of pocket, thanks to a successful career in real estate, but he’s faced a challenge this year. Not only is his personal real estate in foreclosure, but he recently was injured seriously in a crash.
The accident caused him to slow down, and he had to bring in help. But Randy Bouck, unit director of the Boys and Girls Club of Sarasota, said Khleif maintains high spirits, even showing up for a preparation meeting soon after the accident.
“He was physically in pain and mentally in pain, and he still came and did what he had to do in person and didn’t send a representative,” Bouck said. “He’s really hands on.”
Khleif also hosts free foreclosure seminars, with the help of attorneys to guide people through the process, at the Boys and Girls Club, Bouck said.
For the Boys and Girls Club, the Basket Brigade is a welcomed addition.
“We’re trying to do more with less because of the economy,” Bouck said. “Tiny Hands is just a natural partner and a great service to the community, and (it) fosters service in Sarasota in a positive way.”
Teens volunteering at the center also pitch in to help, he added.
But it’s crunch time for the community to pitch in for the Basket Brigade.
For the last two years, Khleif has taken donations, and this year is critical.
“We’re trying to do 1,600. I paid myself for about 350 baskets, and we’re hoping to get donations to get more,” he said. His investment is $10,000 so far this year.
The organization does all the shopping for food and toys, so it relies on cash donations for easier logistics, he said.
Khleif’s philanthropic endeavor started in 2001 with his brother, when they decided to “do some good” and buy meals and donate toys to families in need on Thanksgiving Day.
They started with 50, and each year Khleif’s goal is to double the number of families helped.
All of the money goes to the children and families, Khleif said. He doesn’t take pay or commission; his efforts are voluntary.
The Boys and Girls Club, Adopt a Family, churches and other relief organizations refer families, he said.
“There’s no shortage of families in trouble right now,” Khleif said. “Even when times were good, there were families in trouble.”