Baldwinsville's basket brigade

Palmer Elementary students found a way to give back to the community this Thanksgiving holiday. From kindergarten through fifth grade, there was 100 percent school-wide participation in their successful efforts to collect contributions for the Baldwinsville Basket Brigade, which provides food baskets for needy families.

"I was amazed at all of the support," said principal Jay Austin. "Anytime we do these things, there's mass participation."

Students from every class brought in food donations, and the Baldwinsville Senior Girl Scout Troop helped sort the goods into baskets, which were then delivered to various families in the community. Any leftover food was donated to the Baldwinsville Volunteer Center.

Originally started by Peter and Debbie Rahalski, the Baldwinsville Basket Brigade is part of a larger international Basket Brigade effort coordinated by the Anthony Robbins Foundation.

"My husband got the idea from a Tony Robbins seminar," said Debbie, a Palmer parent and teaching assistant at Baker High School. "We started with just family and friends in 1992. We used to collect and assemble everything the Wednesday before Thanksgiving."

Nine years ago, Palmer teaching assistant Beth Putnam approached Debbie to see how the school might participate.

"This is our ninth year," Putnam explained. "We asked her if we could get involved in it and we've been doing it ever since."

"It's become a community effort and really proven to be a very valuable learning experience for the kids in this school," said Peter Rahalski.

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