In Northern Alabama there is a little town called Falkville, the 2010 census reports that this little place has a population of under 1,300 people. Yet, mighty things are taking place in this little town that most people have not heard of. That’s where our friend has a ministry that started out from the hearts of a few people to spread God’s love.
Donnie and Donna Chappell are Christians who live their lives for Christ. Their heart for God lead them to be sensitive to people who are hungry and hurting. So back in the early 2000s, when they had their karate school, they decided that they wanted to feed the hungry for Christmas. Out of that unselfish desire to meet a very basic human need for hurting people the Chappell Karate Basket Brigade was born. And, it is in that little tiny town Falkville, Alabama where the non-profit 501(c)3 Basket Brigade is located. Donnie and Donna’s karate school is since closed down, but the Basket Brigade is now entering its 13th year.
I’ve known Donna now for slightly over four years. My husband has been friends with Donna’s mother, Pat, and father, Don, for years. Jim has spent significant time with the family over the past 20 years or so. And when I moved to Alabama, it was Don and his daughters that were among some of the first people to whom Jim introduced to me. Don had just had surgery on his knee and Jim took me along to visit Don in the hospital. Once there, I was introduced to quite a few of Don’s family. And, Donna was there. In fact, Donna and her sister Debbie, were there at the hospital around the clock. Everything that Donna’s father needed was attended to and overseen by these two devoted daughters, with support from other family members. And, in a subsequent hospital stay for Donna’s mother, she and Debbie were there around the clock again. It was in Pat’s hospital room that I met Donna’s daughter Amanda that day. I watched as they took care of Pat, and they went through boxes and boxes of coupon papers. Donna and Amanda can extreme coupon like no one I’ve ever seen before. And, they use the power of those couponing skills to benefit the ministry of feeding others. It seems to me that not one coupon goes to waste when it’s in Donna and Amanda’s hands.
I see the heart, dedication, and unselfish nature that Donna and Amanda have in making sure that not only food, but also God’s love are delivered to others. I believe that most of Donnie and Donna’s ten children are intimately involved in this ministry. Their ministry is based upon Jesus’s conversation with Peter in the New Testament of John “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17, ESV).
For the first eight years the Basket Brigade concentrated on complete Christmas dinners for families, for widows, those who have lost their home, and for those who have lost their income. Each Christmas box is generously laden with a full size turkey, a bag of potatoes, canned vegetables, soft drinks, rolls, a roasting pan, a Christmas card, and a Bible. Then in 2013, recognizing that the need is great, the Basket Brigade expanded to providing food for the hungry in the surrounding five-county area, all year around. Early in July of this year Donna posted on the Chappell Karate Basket Brigade’s Facebook page that they had already supplied 100 boxes of dinners out to needy families. For the 2016 Christmas season the Basket Brigade’s goal was 290 boxes of food, but through their dedication, and God’s blessings, the group delivered 402 boxes of food to the hungry. This year’s goal for 2017 is 405 boxes of Christmas dinners. I think that they’ll make it. I hope that through God’s blessings that they will far exceed that goal, just as they did last year.
While Jim and I don’t have a home church, because we’re never home long enough to establish a church connection, it is this ministry which we choose to support. We know the people involved, we see their desire to help others, their motives are pure, their hearts are big. God is blessing so many people through this ministry. And the best part of this is that for each and everything that this ministry achieves in feeding and tending His sheep? They continually give all the glory to God.
From the tiny town of Bethlehem way back when, to the tiny town of Falkville now, God is still doing big things.
And for the Chappell Karate Basket Brigade, in my humble opinion, they’re taking “Feed my sheep” to another level.
I encourage you to get to know a little more about this ministry:
Facebook: Chappell Karate Basket Brigade