Gift Baskets with The Aliveness Project

By E.B. Boatner November 17, 2011
Photographer:

Categories: Causes, Our Affairs

“Your service is a blessing to us families who live in poverty and can’t afford Christmas presents. Our children couldn’t be happier. You put smiles on my children’s faces…priceless.”

– 2010 Gift Basket recipient

Adopting, baking, sewing, delivering – these are just a few of the ways you can give of yourself this holiday season by joining in The Aliveness Project’s 24th Holiday Basket program.

Started in 1988, the event was inended to give a special something to people living with HIV/AIDS–often ostracized by their families and alone on the holidays.

“Like The Aliveness Project itself,” says Tim Marburger, Director of Fundraising and Special Events, the Holiday Basket program began in a very “grassroots” manner. Folks knew their friends were alone or dying; they knew that they needed comfort at the holidays. Someone knew that they had a few clothing items stashed away, while another person had some craft items. These gifts, some food and a Dayton’s Santa Bear were the beginning of the Holiday Basket program.

“In the first year,” continues Marburger, “we did maybe 50-75 baskets; in 2010, we gave out 710.” The baskets now are delivered out of The Aliveness Project facility. There are two days where Project members can pick up their baskets, and then a day when over 300 baskets are delivered to those who are no longer able to venture out.

As the number of baskets has increased so has the number of volunteers. Last year, over 1,400 volunteers helped out at The Aliveness Project, more than 600 of them involved in the Holiday Basket program, wrapping, baking cookies, adopting, delivering, quilting, holding mitten drives, etc.

“As with our other services,” Marburger notes, “we serve everyone from babies to people in their 80s. The baskets represent our membership–black, white, straight, gay, male, female. A basket is not only for the person(s) living with HIV/AIDS, but also their family.

“When a member applies for a basket he/she completes a ‘wish list’ (clothing sizes, musical/movie tastes, household item needs, etc.), which we give to those who adopt. The adopter then spends about $35 to purchase something from the wish list. Each basket is unique – one wants a sweater and the new Beyonce CD, another wants a toaster and some house slippers, while a third asks for a broom, gloves and cleaning supplies.”

Emphasizes Marburger, “We have faith communities, school groups, Boy/Girl Scout groups, senior sewing clubs, and hundreds of individuals coming together to make a difference in the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS. We serve the entire state of Minnesota, as about 10% of the baskets are sent throughout Greater Minnesota.”

“The kindness, generous and thoughtfulness brought tears of joy to our family, whom otherwise would not have had anything,” wrote one recipient, “winter hats, gloves, ear muff and thermals were indeed a necessity!…seeing our child’s face when she got her first pair of roller blades cannot be described. It leaves me with tears and restores our faith in humanity!”

Another reported, “The people who brought the basket were so nice. They didn’t treat me like they are afraid. So many people have turned their backs on me, but you guys made me feel so much better; not just with the gifts, but with the Christmas spirit.”

Concludes Marburger, “The Aliveness Project could not exist without the support of our community – a caring group who knows the struggles of being left out. Thank you for all that you have and will continue to do for those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS in Minnesota.

Adopting, baking, sewing, delivering… you can help. Visit www.aliveness.org/share-spirit-season.

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