On File

Care from a stranger

“I remember one Thanksgiving when our family had no money and no food and someone came knocking on our door,” said Tony Robbins, international speaker and New York Times bestselling author. “A man was standing there with a huge box of food, a giant uncooked turkey, and even some pans and a big pot to cook it in.” Tony, 11 years old, couldn’t believe the “miracle.” But his father, full of pride and skepticism, demanded, “Who are you? Where are you from?”

The stranger announced, “I’m here because a friend of yours knows you’re in need and that you wouldn’t accept direct help, so I’ve brought this for you. Have a great Thanksgiving.”

Robbins’ dad said, “No, no, we can’t accept this,” and began to slam the door, but the stranger persisted. “You don’t have a choice,” he said. “Don’t let your ego cause your family to suffer.” He entered the house, left the food, and walked away.

Robbins said that experience had a profound impact on his life. “I promised myself that someday, I would do well enough financially so that I could do the same thing for other people.”

By the time he was 18, he had created “a ritual” of giving baskets to needy families. “I like to do things spontaneously, so I would go out shopping and buy enough food for one or two families.” He would dress as if he were a delivery boy, go to the poorest neighborhood, and just knock on a door. “I always included a note that explained my Thanksgiving experience as a kid.”

The note, which was written in English and in Spanish, concluded, “All that I ask in return, is that you take good enough care of yourself so that someday, you can do the same thing for someone else.”

Robbin’s said he has received more satisfaction from conducting this annual ritual than he has from any amount of money he’s earned.

Robbins and his wife soon teamed up with then–Captain John Rondon, a Salvation Army corps officer in the South Bronx. Their meeting was a divine appointment on the streets of New York City. “Why do you want to do this?” Rondon asked. “I want to show gratitude for all that I’ve received. I want to give back,” Robbins said.

“I’ll take you places you never even thought of going,” said Rondon. He and the Robbinses purchased food and put the items in enough baskets to feed seven families for 30 days. They visited people who lived in deplorable conditions. “It was astonishing to realize some people lived this way,” said Robbins. “It was also a truly fulfilling experience to make even a small difference in their lives. You see, you can make anything happen if you commit to it and take action.”

What began as Robbins’ individual effort to feed families in need has now grown into the Anthony Robbins Foundation’s International Basket Brigade, providing baskets of food and household items for an estimated two million people annually in countries all over the world. The International Basket Brigade is built on a simple notion: one small act of generosity on the part of one caring person can transform the lives of hundreds.

by Warren L. Maye