Baskets of Love Celebrates 10 Years of Giving
This Valentine’s Day, a group of women will be showing their love for the Coalition in a big way: by celebrating the 10th anniversary of Baskets of Love.
Baskets of Love, a grassroots effort, began with four friends’ simple desire to give back to the community. Years ago, Gigi Moorman and her friends were touched by the stories of the residents of the Women’s Residential and Counseling Center (WRCC). The women there, they learned, are often victims of domestic violence in need of a fresh start.
Out of their compassion for the women of WRCC, Baskets of Love was born. Unlike traditional Valentine’s Day gifts of flowers and chocolate, these functional baskets are filled with items that the women use on a day-to-day basis: toiletries. Laundry baskets, adorned with pink and red tissue paper, contain goodies like soap, body lotion, feminine hygiene products, deodorant, razors, and shampoo and conditioner. Niceties like perfume and hair accessories are included as well. Kids’ baskets feature games, socks, underwear and books.
To go along with each basket, the women receive laundry detergent and rolls of quarters as well.
The baskets and laundry supplies aren’t simply dropped off at the WRCC, but presented with love as well. The group hosts a Valentine’s Day party for the residents, complete with food and drink for all to enjoy.
“We knew it wasn’t giving a handout; it was more like giving a hand up,” said Gigi of their efforts. “The women were committed to getting their lives back and being able to stand on their own two feet.”
This year, a chance meeting with Stewart Moore, anchor for WESH 2 news, set the bar even higher for the friends. Stewart, who had a passion for supporting the Orlando Union Rescue Mission, energized the group to expand their outreach efforts. This year, a total of 175 baskets of love will be given to women at Orlando Union Rescue Mission, as well as to the Coalition’s Center for Women and Families. And, so as not to exclude the men, the group is donating toiletries to the Men’s Service Center.
“We really had felt that the universe has been putting things in our path this year to make the tenth year really, really special,” Gigi said.
Perhaps the most beautiful aspect of Baskets of Love is that they represent an entire community’s willingness to help their homeless neighbors. For the past ten years, Gigi and her group has rallied friends, neighbors, and professional contacts who all help contribute to the baskets to make the event a success. This year, Hilton Grand Vacations contributed though in-kind donations and financial support, while BB&T provided rolls of quarters to help women with laundry expenses. TJX companies and Orlando Health donated $25 gift cards for the baskets as an extra-special surprise for the recipients.
Still others in the community took in donations and assembled baskets, including Experience Christian Center, HAMW Law, and the Walt Disney World VoluntEARS.
“We believe that people want to give back,” Gigi said simply. “We believe that if you give them an opportunity to do so they can.”