It takes a village, they say. And with this year’s Goodman Community Center Thanksgiving Basket Drive working on an abbreviated time frame with Thanksgiving being held early this year (Nov. 22), they are hoping that the village will help them make their ambitious Thanksgiving basket goals. When all is said and done, Goodman hopes to provide almost 4,000 Thanksgiving baskets to families and community members in need.

“The best part of the Thanksgiving Basket is that everything you need is there,” Edith Hilliard, executive assistant at the Goodman Community Center, tells Madison365. “You get a 10-12 pound turkey, the container to cook the turkey in, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, fruit, vegetables, mac and cheese, broth, milk, butter, eggs, onions, potatoes, carrots, pumpkin pie and ice cream. That’s everything you need! That is the greatest blessing because when you leave here, you have everything that you need for your entire Thanksgiving dinner.”

Hilliard is a longtime Madison community member and has witnessed, for the past 30 years, the Goodman Community Center’s Thanksgiving Basket Drive become a tradition with many of its long-serving staff, volunteers and their children returning year after year to make sure that people in the village are fed. Food donations are great, but Goodman is also looking for donations of money to help them buy food in bulk.

Edith HIlliard

“Financial contributions are the best so we can buy in bulk. We can spread people’s dollars much further,” Hilliard says. “We are at 3,900 families that have registered right now and we have a wait list. So we are really beginning to run low on time.”

That’s an increase from last year when the Goodman Thanksgiving Basket Drive delivered 3,5000 baskets to families in the Dane County area and would be the most baskets that the Goodman Center has ever done.

“We want to feed as many families as we can so every dollar helps. We’re grateful for every contribution that we’re able to get so that every family can have a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner,” Hilliard said.

Being a Madison northsider/eastsider, Hilliard has watched Goodman Center organize the Thanksgiving Basket Drive for 30 years, but it wasn’t until she started working there two years ago that she saw how the whole community comes together to make sure that every family has a holiday meal.

Volunteers help with the Goodman Community Center Thanksgiving Basket Drive.

“I never knew until I started working here about the amount of food that comes in. It’s just amazing to be in our gym and to see the massive amounts of food that are there – 35,000 pounds of potatoes, for example,” she says. “It’s hard to imagine seeing that much food at one time. Prior to working here, I just didn’t have any idea how much food was coming in and out.”

The whole process for distributing the Thanksgiving Baskets has become a well-oiled machine, she adds, as an army of volunteers help put the thousands of baskets together. “You don’t have to wait any long periods of time. Everything just flows so nice with the whole operation. The volunteers that we have are absolutely phenomenal,” Hilliard says. “[Volunteers from] UW comes out along with other volunteers and you literally drive up, hand us your postcard, we put food in your car and you’re off!

Goodman Community Center

“It brings so much joy to people’s lives,” Hilliard adds. “People sign up a year and a half [ahead] to come and volunteer to help out with Thanksgiving Baskets. I think that says something, too. People are excited about coming and volunteering and helping and just seeing the smiles and gratitude on people’s faces when they are able to receive that Thanksgiving Basket that has everything that they need in it.”

The Goodman Community Center will be distributing the baskets at the end of this week on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

“People can contribute at our website. They can come into the building – Ironworks – and they can donate money or food,” Hilliard says. “We appreciate everything that people are willing to donate.”

For more information about the Goodman Community Center Thanksgiving Basket Drive, click here.


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