Our December giving back recipient, One Memphis, couldn’t stage the huge event that has become Operation Christmas Basket without the help of one incredible Memphian: Gayle Rose. For the past 7 years, she has been the lead volunteer organizer behind the annual food giveaway, which took place last weekend. We’re flattered she took the time from her busy schedule to give us a little history about the event and a lot of motivation for staying involved:
Orion: Tell us about Operation Christmas Basket.
Gayle Rose: Last year, the line of cars waiting to get a food basket was over 7 miles long, the need is so great in Memphis. Nearly 400 volunteers, dressed in Team Max shirts and Santa hats broke-up into teams to put over 28 food items in a box which includes a fresh turkey, chicken and hot dogs, along with 9 cans of vegetables and fixings to make a beautiful Christmas meal. Every year, the mood is cheerful and the smiles on the recipients faces helps you realize that you’re doing something to create over 3,000 Christmas dinner memories for families in Memphis.
Orion: How did you become involved with Operation Christmas Basket?
Gayle Rose: Seven years ago, we formed Team Max in memory of my son Max who was killed in a car accident. Harold Ford, Jr. called me and asked me to help with volunteers for this Operation. Since that time, Mayor Wharton took over and we’ve been the primary volunteer force ever since.
Orion: What has surprised you most about working on One Memphis – Operation Christmas Basket?
Gayle Rose: What has surprised me most is that 400 people willingly show up at 6:30 in the morning on a day-off to work hard serving those in need in our community. It brings tears to my eyes to see the generosity of Memphians. On the other hand, it also brings tears to my eyes to see the need for these baskets. If we could do 10,000 baskets, the line would still be there.
Orion: What do you wish other people knew about the event?
Gayle Rose: What I wish other people knew about the event is that all it takes is a willing heart and an able body to participate. We welcome people from all walks of life who are willing to pitch in and help our neighbors in Memphis have a wonderful Christmas dinner.
Orion: What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating or volunteering?
Gayle Rose: The biggest obstacle to making a difference in someone’s else’s life is apathy. If you feel like volunteering or donating, do not wait. Take action today!