Non-profit News

From Karate To Kindness: How One Group Feeds 400

It was getting dark that December night when the volunteers for the Basket Brigade showed up with a box of food. It had been a long day—they had assembled boxes of food for those who needed it and then set out to deliver all 389 meals. They knocked on one door, and when it opened, they spoke the same line they had been saying all day, “We’re here with a Christmas dinner food box from Jesus.”

The man who answered burst into tears.

The volunteers were taken aback. Then the man invited them inside. Sitting around the dining room table were three other adults and two children. At the very moment the volunteers were walking up to their door, they had been praying for God to send them enough food for a Christmas dinner.

The volunteers visited for a while, then left. Later that night, the man’s neighbor called Basket Brigade and mentioned he hadn’t gotten the box of food they said they would be delivering. It was then they realized they had delivered that Christmas dinner box to the wrong house. The family inside praying hadn’t ever heard of the Basket Brigade. They were just praying for a miracle.

There are countless stories like this over the past 12 years Chappell’s Karate Basket Brigade has been handing out food. 

It all started in 2005, when Donnie and Donna Chappell owned a karate studio in Hartselle. They heard about another group handing out boxes for Thanksgiving, and they decided to pick up the same mission in December, when parents are typically consumed with providing toys and gifts for their children.

“It’s kind of funny,” Donna said. “When you do this, you try to be a blessing to the community. Then you end up being the one who was blessed.”

That first year, they made a goal of 15 meals but ended up raising enough money to hand out 78 boxes of food. In the following years, the mission grew into a full 501(c)3 nonprofit that handed out 389 boxes of food in 2015. Eventually, the karate studio closed, but the mission continued.

During those first few years, the Chappell family only gave out boxes of food in December. In 2013, they realized the need for food was year-round, so they started giving out boxes of groceries whenever they found out about a family who needed it. The Christmas boxes include a turkey, stuffing, vegetables and the fixings for a family dinner. The other boxes delivered throughout the year are tailored more for groceries and things a family might need to eat on a weeknight.

They include a Bible and a card with every box, Donna said.

Since they reach out to the seniors as well as families who have fallen on hard times, Basket Brigade often provides too much food for one single person to eat. Donna said one elderly woman got her box of food, and since she had no family left, she cooked a dinner for her neighbors.

How does Basket Brigade get the funds to do this? The Chappell family raises money through different fundraisers, donation opportunities, big-business sponsors and food drives as well as support from their friends, family members and coworkers. 

At first Basket Brigade relied heavily on the Department of Human Resources to give them names of families who needed food, but in recent years they’ve grown to the point where individuals, churches and school counselors send them information on families who might need some help. Basket Brigade distributes food boxes primarily in a five-county radius: Madison, Morgan, Limestone, Lawrence and Cullman.

Donna said their goal this year is to provide food for 390 boxes. Along with that lofty goal comes the need for volunteers. You can find out more about volunteering on their website. You can also call 256-612-4438 and leave a message, and do leave a message if you need to refer someone who needs a meal.


It’s CHRISTMAS IN JULY, and it’s time to prepare for this year’s 13th Annual Basket Brigade, which will be on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 at the OWO Rec. Center in Hartselle.  Donna told us each Christmas dinner food box costs approximately $45, and it’s time to start taking donations for recipients.

Anyone who would like to make a $45 donation during the month of July, Donna asked that you please include the name, address, phone number and the number in the household of a family who will receive a Christmas dinner food box. Boxes will be delivered on December 16.

Mail donations to CKBB, P. O. Box 268, Falkville, AL 35622. You may donate online at  or you can call 256-751-3325or 256-612-4438, and they will pick it up!

About the author


Jessie Harbin

Jessie lives in Meridianville with her husband, baby and four dogs. She thrives on chaos, and loves finding good news stories where you least expect them.

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