The 2018 Be an Elf Christmas Appeal
1. Who is Be an Elf Ltd?
We are a registered charity, which operates in South East Queensland. Our President and Founder is June Hintz, who has been working with youth in Beenleigh and Logan for over 20 years. Our website is www.beanelf.org.au and our Facebook page is www.facebook.com/beanelf01/ You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The best phone contact is June Hintz on 0408 256 251.
2. What does Be an Elf Ltd do?
We are a non- profit that helps poorer, often neglected children and those children at risk of homelessness, i.e. ‘living rough in bad housing’, such as cars, tents, overcrowded sheds & squats etc., that are unfit for human habitation. We are not government funded or attached to a church. We are simply a group of community-based volunteers, whose charitable assistance is based throughout the year, around the provision of every day practical items like food, clothing, school materials, bed linen/blankets, second-hand furniture, etc. to children in need.
3. What is the Be an Elf Christmas Appeal?
Each Christmas, we gather Santa wish list letters from disadvantaged children and try to match the lists with generous donors, who will provide at least one of the items, on the child’s Christmas wish list letter. Our belief is that every child deserves hope and the knowledge, that someone in the community genuinely cares about them.
We send out the letters to the donors, known as Elves from the 30th October 2019, who will have indicated to us how many letters they require. You can take one letter or multiple letters. It is up to you and we are extremely grateful for any help.
- The rule: Just do what you can. It all adds up.
If you decide that you would like a letter or letters from us, we can send them to either your email or by our preferred option, which is to attach them to a Facebook message.
The letter/s and the child’s requested presents need to be returned to us by 8th December 2019 and the filled wish list letters are then returned to the children with the present/s in the week prior to Christmas day, 25th December.
4. How do you fill the wish list letters that you receive?
You will receive an example letter from a child, with this information document. It will be one of the children’s letters, from last year. You do not have to get everything on the letter/s and if you think anything is inappropriate, either substitute something that is age appropriate, or leave it off entirely, e.g., awfully expensive items.
- Note: An expensive item like a Play Station can be pawned by a drug-addicted parent. This is the exception rather than the rule, but we have seen it happen.
On the letter, you will see the child’s age, their first name, their clothing and shoe sizes plus the presents, that they are asking for. Due to Privacy Laws, we are prohibited from releasing any identifiers of the children. This includes their last name, address, school, or photos of the children themselves. All our volunteers, who have physical contact with the children must have a Blue Card.
We also add other donated items from individuals and companies to make up a child’s Xmas pack, if it is required. Please do not donate any live animals. Second-hand items this year will only be accepted, if they are in excellent, as new condition, the only exception to this rule is books, which are in high demand, from the children.
Remember, we are dealing with children, so please don’t be surprised if some ask for a Ferrari, just buy them a toy car.
5. Do we wrap the presents?
From this year forward, Be an Elf will not be able to accept gift-wrapped presents. This is for a variety of reasons:
a. Workplace, Health & Safety reasons. We cannot guarantee what is wrapped in the presents. Last year a gift pack was returned to us from a Women’s Shelter because a safety razor was included. They were concerned about self-harm. We cannot accept any sharp objects, scissors etc. in the future, because of the risk factors involved to the children and our volunteers.
b. Legal issues. Ninety-nine percent of our wonderful donors have always done the right thing, but what if inappropriate or restricted material was included in a package and that material was seen by a child. This material could include magazines, videos, CDs, or other items. Unfortunately, it is the world we live in.
The ideal solution is that presents be placed in bags. If you would like the presents wrapped, you could include some wrapping paper and the Elf volunteers will wrap the presents. This also gives us the opportunity to see what has been included on the wish list and to be able to add additional items, if needed. If any wrapped presents arrive for distribution, then we will have to unwrap them and place them in bags, we have purchased and have on hand for that purpose.
6. Do we attach the letter to the bag or present?
Please attach a letter securely to the outside of the bag, containing the present/s, or directly to the present. You can staple it or sticky tape it along all 4 sides. Then place a copy of the letter inside the bag, as well, please. Sometimes the letter becomes detached and we have tremendous difficulty matching the present with the child.
7. Can we choose to just donate our choice of items to the children?
Certainly. Most people choose to fill the letters and often may add additional items, with their Christmas wish list for the child. However, we have some organisations and individuals that do this.
The children we help, range in ages from 0-15 years, in other words we assist disadvantaged and ‘homeless’ kids ranging from babies to mid-teens. Each circumstance is different, but over the years, we have found that most requested items are:
a. Food: Chocolates and Sweets, well it is Christmas; use your judgment. Small boxes of biscuits are good, as the children can take them into their rooms and snack on them, when they are hungry. Bottles of water and non-perishables are appreciated, but beware of nuts, because of allergies. Many of the homes we visit do not have refrigeration, as they cannot afford electricity. Our volunteers visited a home, which has not had electricity for 2 years.
b. Toys: Girls love dolls and Boys love any type of ball. Both like Lego blocks. Soft toys are good for babies and toddlers, as it gives them something to cuddle and feel affection from.
c. Clothing: Singlets (tank tops) of all sizes. Keep in mind, we mostly look after primary aged children. White and black socks for school. Underpants and briefs for boys and girls; many of the school handbooks insist the children wear underwear, which is an issue for the poorer students. Many people buy outfits for the children.
- Sizing for clothes is on the letters. Sizing can be deceptive, for example, a Polynesian child can be much larger than other children of their age. Also, many children now wear baggy clothes.
d. Hygiene: Toothbrushes, toothpaste, sanitary pads for girls from grade 5/6 up, deodorant, shampoo, lip balm and conditioners (2 in 1 is best), children’s towels (small) and washers.
e. School: Drink bottles. Plastic drink bottles go moldy and must be replaced. School lunch boxes are always in demand. Also, smaller ”brain food boxes”. The little ones particularly have three meals a day and require smaller containers. School supplies are always requested including pencils, pencil cases, sharpeners, colouring pencils, erasers, and glue sticks. School backpacks are extremely popular.
f. Sleep: Pillows and pillowcases. Many of the children move around a lot. They may be living in cars, emergency accommodation or shelters. It is important that they have their own pillow. Smart Value Pillows 2-Pack from Big W is $5.
g. Books: Colouring books are great for primary children and children’s books in general, including picture books. Do you have any treasured children’s books or board games in good condition that your children have grown out of?
NOTE The items do not have to be new, they can be superior quality ‘AS NEW’ second hand.
- Please if you have some item that your children enjoyed, but no longer have a use for, we guarantee that there will be a child out there that will treasure it.
8. Where do we drop off the letters?
This year, we will have drop off points for the filled letters and the presents, throughout Brisbane and hopefully on the Gold Coast. The drop of points are yet to be finalised and you will be notified of the addresses, in one month. At the same time, we will notify you of this year’s Elf campaign headquarters.
We can pick up the presents, if we have enough notice from larger offices, where there are multiple filled letters and presents. It would be extremely helpful if you can please use the drop off points, as it is difficult for the volunteers to pick up, for example one filled letter. If you have any difficulties or have pre-arranged a pick-up with us, please contact us through Facebook messenger, by email or phone.
9. If we are outside the Be an Elf Christmas Appeal area, can we still participate?
Yes, of course. There are three options.
a. Post the items that you have purchased for the child to 100 Milne Street, Beenleigh, Qld. 4207.
b. Post us a gift card and we will fill the items from the wish list from a store of your choice. Store examples: Kmart, Big W, Target, Myer, David Jones.
c. We will have a donate page on our website, specifically for the Be an Elf Christmas Appeal, where you will be able to donate a sum to cover the wish list/s and we will fill the list/s with that money. Our website is www.beanelf.org.au
10. Who are the children, we look after?
The disadvantaged children that we assist are all Australian. This year, they will be from Brisbane (North & South), Ipswich, Logan, and the Gold Coast. They live in local communities, often near you.
11. How do we source the children?
We have large networks. Certain people in the community will identify children and families that may need help. Our major identifiers of children in need are school principals, teachers, school chaplains, other charities, youth workers, police, community associations, shelters &refuges, foster care, etc. Once the children are identified, we need to talk to them. Our volunteers all have blue cards. We must interview all prospective applicants. The Christmas Appeal is also one avenue, we use to identify those families that need help and then assist the children, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.
We also do outreach. This involves going to the places, where the homeless congregate. They may be invisible to society, but they have their tent cities and the places where they live in their cars. We talk to them and ask if they need help and who else do they know, who needs help. We have been doing this for 20+ years now, so we know the kids on the street, and they know and trust us.
We do not discriminate. If the parents are both drug addicts, we will assist the children, as they are our concern. We want to intervene and try to prevent the children from becoming involved in the endless welfare/poverty cycle. We also deal with a lot of Domestic Violence cases, where the children are affected and children who have been taken by child services and are in emergency care.
12. I would like to be a volunteer?
We are seeking volunteers over the Christmas period, who can do any of the following: gift wrap, staff the Elf headquarters, deliver presents to the children, (you will require a vehicle and a Blue Card for this. We can assist with the paperwork here and it is free through our organisation). We are also looking for volunteers, who are willing to offer their homes or businesses, as collection points for the presents.
13. I can’t volunteer. Can I help in other ways?
Yes, we need Elf Ambassadors? Can you tell others about Be an Elf and the Christmas Appeal? Please talk to your friends, family and work colleagues. Sometimes our supporters become Elf Office organisers and arrange to co-ordinate the Be an Elf Christmas Appeal, through their work organisation. They talk to their fellow workers, get them involved and then tell us how many letters they need. They then collect all the presents in one place at their office and when ready ask us to collect them or deliver them to one of our collection points.
14. Can I sponsor Be an Elf Ltd?
We are interested in working with organisations and companies, who would like to be associated with our cause. You may wish to talk to us about our initiatives, involving sponsorship and workplace giving. We are making an enormous difference in local communities and have many success stories, with disadvantaged children, who have turned their lives around through our charity’s outreach.
15. So why should I support Be an Elf, in particular?
When you read the letters from the children, you will see why. They can be heartbreaking. You begin to realise that many of the kids are deprived of everyday items, most of us take for granted. The children do not ask for a lot either, as they have extremely low expectations, brought on by a life of extreme poverty, trauma, and domestic violence. Can you envisage your children and grandchildren asking for underpants, a toothbrush, or a school lunch box for Christmas? How would it make you feel to see a letter, where the child wants” Daddy to stop beating Mummy for Christmas” or they just ask for “food”, nothing else.?
Your help makes a stark difference in their lives and cannot be underestimated. That one small gift from you is remembered by these children. It gives them hope and that is a significant emotion. It could even be the impetus that helps them break the cycle of poverty. So, this Christmas, join with us and we will make many small children’s dreams come true and their future brighter.