Etobians looking to pass on the spirit of Thanksgiving next weekend need not look any further than The Queensway Canadian Tire – one of 10 stores across the province offering special deals to Basketeers.
The Basketeers – a 3,500-volunteer strong group founded by Etobicoke’s own Cheryl Stoneburgh – is now in their 13th year of providing holiday care baskets for abused women starting a new life after leaving the shelter system.
Last year, with the help of Canadian Tire, the group was able to generate 1,685 baskets to support 39 women’s shelters in eight different cities.
Stoneburgh, a recent recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal, said they’re hoping to match, if not surpass, that goal again this year – especially since they’ve added another shelter to their roster of recipients.
But they need a little help to push them to their goal – and they’re seeking new recruits.
“I always feel a little panicked, and it’s still hard times. People who used to do three baskets, are doing two this year; and those who used to do two are doing one,” she said, noting that with seven weeks to go until the end of their drive, the GTA Basketeers are just halfway to their goal of 800 baskets. “We’re so grateful for all of our supporters, but we haven’t seen the end of difficult times.”
Stepping in to help out again this year is Canadian Tire, which will run a Basketeer sale event from Friday, Oct. 5 to Sunday, Oct. 7 at 10 different stores located in Basketeer branch cities across the province – from The Queensway store here in Etobicoke, to stores as far away as Thunder Bay.
For the duration of the sale, Basketeers will be able to make use of a special coupon emailed out to members that gives them a 10 per cent discount on basket-worthy items, ranging from housewares, to household appliances, to cleaning products.
All regularly priced items to be discounted – which include toasters, glasses, irons, hair dryers, coffee makers, frying pans, kettles, microwaves, knife sets, flatware and cleaners, among many others – will start with the product code 42-, 43-, or 53-.
The Basketeer concept, Stoneburgh explained, is a simple one: “to support women in new beginnings.”
To achieve those ends, Basketeer participants – whether they be individuals or groups – start with a laundry basket or other storage container, and then fill it full of items a woman starting a new life might need.
Some participants choose a theme, buying all-kitchen or all-bedroom/bathroom items, Stoneburgh explained, noting that the average cost of a basket is in the $150 to $200 range.
A kitchen basket, for example, might contain a kettle, a frying pan, some kitchen towels, dinnerware, dish detergent, etc., while a bed and bath basket might include sheets, an alarm clock, a blanket, and a pillow.
Wrapped and decorated baskets will this year be collected at a Basketeer event at The Salvation Army Mississauga Temple on Nov. 17, where donors will be treated to baked goods and coffee or hot chocolate from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
After that, each of the recipient shelters – of which there are 19 served by The Basketeers’ GTA branch – come with their trucks to pick up the baskets for distribution to their clients.
Volunteers wishing to contribute a basket can go to www.basketeers.ca to register.