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Let's talk turkey! Have you ever been hungry and not have enough money to buy food? Did you ever skip a meal so another family member could eat? Unfortunately, this is happening right here in Connecticut. You could help make a positive difference. For the last 16 years a number of volunteers have been feeding children in need. Lydia M. Child said, "An effort made for the happiness of others lifts us above ourselves."

You're invited to join me for the 2009 Thanksgiving Basket Brigade! It will be held on Saturday, Nov. 21. We'll have Starbucks Coffee and danish waiting for you! We could use your help that day and we need your donations to help our growing fund-raising effort. I tell people that if they come, they will thank me for telling them about this wonderful gathering. Every year, my participation makes me really feel like the holidays are here.

Here's a letter from one volunteer: "The day of the Basket Brigade is one of the best of the year for me. While it makes me sad to think that people need that kind of help, because certainly no one should have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, it makes me happy, too. To reach out to people and to know that everyone who participates in the Basket Brigade reaches out, too. That is what life is all about, isn't it, helping each other? All of you folks responsible for starting and organizing it are fantastic. I'm in awe of how hard you all work to put it all together and to make sure there is food to put in those baskets. It's truly been a blessing for my family, who also helps and as my niece and nephew get older, they'll help out, too. Sending much love and appreciation that I feel for all of you."

Please meet us at 9 a.m. at our Thanksgiving Basket Brigade location, which is Champ Direct Printing & Mailing, 75 Cascade Boulevard, Milford, CT 06460, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Nov. 21. Volunteers have been putting together and delivering baskets with all the fixings' to those in need in the greater New Haven/ Fairfield area. We work with several agencies to find families in need of assistance. We work with the CCCC (Coordinating Council for Children in Crisis), Yale Child Study Center, Cornerstone, Bella Vista and The Connecticut Department of Social Services.

One-hundred percent of your donations, every single penny, will go to purchasing food and toys. All donations are tax deductible. You can go on the Web site: now and donate. Please click the Basket Brigade Button. Or you can mail a check to the CCCC (The Coordinating Council for Children in Crisis), 131 Dwight Street, New Haven, CT 06511. Please indicate "Basket Brigade" in the memo section. The CCCC is a non profit organization that has been providing client names and assists with our efforts every year. A donation of $300 feeds 10 families, $150 feeds 5 families, and $30 feeds 1 family. Any donation will help tremendously! The entire overhead is donated. You will receive a thank you letter and your name will be included in the CCCC annual report.

I trust you will get excited about this project and join me in talking to everyone about it, coworkers, family, friends and neighbors. Invite them to contribute and come help us deliver! When we began in 1993, we provided 100 families with food. We were excited the year we reached a new plateau of feeding 185 families, last year we fed 450 families and this year we are going to feed over 500 families. Including this year, we will have distributed over 46 tons of food directly to those in need.

I thank Dr. John Sottery, who organized the first Basket Brigade in 1993 and Victor Frazao our facilitator. Our sincere appreciation to Paul Featherston, the owner of Champ Direct, who has donated his facilities to this wonderful cause. His wife Kathleen and their family will also be there to help out. I also want to thank Adams Supermarket at 1301 New Haven Avenue in Milford, Stew Leonard's and R.C. Bigelow Inc. for their food contributions. All these wonderful people really make the spirit of the holidays real.

A young man said to me, "Last year was the first time I volunteered to help. It made me realize that I could feel good about giving. I always enjoyed receiving, but giving was also good, yet slightly different. It made me feel like I was contributing. It energized me. It made me feel good about myself. I never realized that giving was like a gift as well. Giving is receiving. It was not only a gift I gave others but also a gift I gave myself." A. Neilen, so correctly stated, "If you have not often felt the joy of doing a kind act, you have neglected much, and most of all yourself."

If you have questions please feel free to contact: Victor Frazao, phone: 258-3888 e-mail:; or me at 258-7777, e-mail:

Lionel Ketchian is the founder of the Happiness Club. The Web site is