With nine days to go until Christmas, the Nanoose Bay Elf Program is in full swing.
Organizer Maureen Moore said she and her dozens of volunteers have been promptly putting together the annual festive charity since mid-October — wrapping presents, curling ribbon and spreading Christmas cheer to those in-need.
The Elf Program was started 25 years ago by Virginia Brucker, who was teaching Grade 1 at the time in Nanoose Bay.
“It started because of one girl in my class,” Brucker told The NEWS from Nanoose Place.
“This girl, she had nothing — and I mean nothing — and she said to me one day ‘I don’t think Santa is coming to my house,'” explained Brucker. “And I knew I had to do something.”
The Elf Program works like this: families or individuals in-need register for the program, then you can adopt a family or individual and you will be given a list of Christmas requests or information about the family (size, gender ect.) withholding their identity. You then wrap the gifts and return them to the Nanoose elves, who deliver the gifts or have the recipients pick them up before Christmas.
Alternatively, the elves have set up Christmas trees in Nanoose Place, Nanoose Elementary School, Fairwinds Centre, St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Jim’s Gym, Hot and Cool Yoga (Parksville location), Aspengrove School (north Nanaimo) and the post office in the Red Gap Centre.
The Christmas trees are decorated with ornamental tags which have gift requests on the back. You can take a tag and purchase the gift requested on it, then return the unwrapped present to any of the tree locations. The Nanoose elves will then wrap the gifts and deliver them to the appropriate locations.
The entire charity stays within Nanoose Bay and is completely anonymous. The first year of the program six families received gifts. Last year, around 280 gifts went out.
“It’s a lot of hard work but it’s very rewarding,” said Moore, whose been leading the charity for four years since Brucker stepped down. “I don’t know who gets more pleasure out of it — the givers or the receivers.”
Moore said that the Nanoose elves try to make Christmas a joyful time for everybody — even those who don’t register for the program often will receive something special on Christmas.
“There are people we know, just by word of mouth and from living in a small community, who would appreciate gifts so we try and reach all those people,” said Moore.
If you would like to sponsor a family or individual, or for more information contact Maureen Moore at 250-586-9788. Cash donations are also welcome.
— NEWS Staff