Eddie Basha loved St. Vincent de Paul, and he especially loved Turkey Tuesday.
He helped turn the event into the nation’s largest one-day turkey drive with more than 20,000 turkeys donated. Volunteers then deliver the turkeys, along with Thanksgiving meal fixings, to families in need.
Shortly before Eddie passed away, we met in his office, and Eddie was full of ideas to make this year’s event the biggest ever.
Turkey Tuesday will occur this Tuesday, and we hope the community will once again come together and provide turkeys for those less fortunate to carry on Eddie’s legacy of giving to our community.
At all Bashas’, Food City and AJ’s Fine Foods, people can either donate turkeys or give a cash donation that can be used to buy turkeys. Sports anchors Bruce Cooper and Dan Bickley from 12 News will lead the challenge to determine what area of the Valley is most generous this year. Bruce will be at the Bashas’ at 4940 S. Gilbert Road in Chandler from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m to lead the East Valley effort. If you know Bruce, you can expect lots of sports celebrities to show up to support him.
The turkeys collected will be put to good use and given directly to families in need.St. Vincent de Paul’s central kitchen also will prepare 4,500 Thanksgiving meals for our five dining rooms, including the one in Mesa. That’s 500 more meals than last Thanksgiving, because of the steady increase of people coming to our dining rooms over the last year.
Turkey Tuesday is just one event that St. Vincent de Paul sponsors to help the growing number of people, especially the working poor who need assistance.
At St. Vincent de Paul, wefeed, clothe, house and heal — every day. The need and demand for our services is huge throughout the year but it is especially critical as we begin the holiday season.
For 67 years St. Vincent de Paul has served homeless and working poor individuals and their families without regard to race, creed, color or religious affiliation. Our mission is especially focused on those who are doing everything in their own power to improve their lives.
Someone who only sees the food boxes or the rent checks or the beds in our homeless shelter really doesn’t understand who we are — or what we really do. We not only meet their basic needs. We give them hope. We give them love.
It was this love for others that inspired Eddie Basha’s good works in the community. He raised millions of dollars for St. Vincent de Paul. He donated countless truckloads of food, and he regularly volunteered, serving meals, washing dishes, sweeping floors and visiting with the homeless and working poor. He organized events, wrote letters and gave speeches, so that those less fortunate would have a better life.
I will never forget a time Eddie was leaving the State Capitol. As he drove past our downtown dining room he noticed the line outside was longer than usual. He pulled over and called from his car asking “What can I do to help?” Two days later we received a check in the mail. I suspect thousands of people drove by our dining room that day. Eddie was the only person who stopped to help.
How ironic that the busiest of all people was the one who found time to reach out. He was the Good Samaritan of our time, and it is impossible to recount that famous Bible passage without thinking of Eddie. He is indeed missed, by those who were blessed to know him, and the untold thousands who never knew it was Eddie Basha who provided their most recent meal.
Eddie won’t be with us this Tuesday but his spirit of generosity lives in all of us.Thanks to him, Turkey Tuesday lives on. We invite you to be part of it.
• Steve Zabilski is Executive Director at St. Vincent de Paul.