Elf Louise Philosophy

The Elf Louise Christmas Project is based on hope and faith and a belief in the goodness of people.

Elves who have committed themselves to the continuation of the Project trust that those seeking assistance from the Project are in true need: they trust as well that volunteers will come forth and donations will be received to meet the needs that are expressed by the people of San Antonio and Bexar County.

The Elves work to reaffirm the true spirit of Christmas through anonymous giving.

The Elves witness to, are part of, and help make happen many small miracles as people from all walks of life come together with small donations of time or money or toys. Much of what happens occurs in a very serendipitous manner: spontaneity is an important element and allows for each individual who participates to feel that his or her contribution is meaningful, no matter how small.

The Elf Louise Christmas Project is for the benefit of the recipients: they receive gifts that may not have great monetary value, but which carry with them the spirit of Christmas and the good wishes of the community.

The Elf Louise Christmas Project is for the benefit of the volunteers: through their involvement and contributions they discover or re-discover the richness of the spirit of Christmas, the spirit of concern for others, a spirit which transcends religious affiliations.

The Elf Louise Christmas Project is for the benefit of the entire community: no project of this magnitude can long endure if there is not some significant good coming from it that benefits the community as a whole.

The Elf Louise Christmas Project finds support throughout the city and county–from businesses, from the media, from church, social and civic organizations, from private individuals–because of its unique nature: the use of Santas, the personalizing of each gift, the minimal screening of application, the total absence of any paid staff, the inclusion of the entire county.

The Elf Louise Christmas Project is a grassroots organization: there is no paid staff; overhead is kept at under 5% of contributions; the Project is housed in whatever space can be arranged in a central location so that persons from all areas of the city and county can have access and be welcomed; the Project does not expect one group to raise all the money or to supply all the Santas or to purchase all the gifts; small donations are welcomed and encouraged.

The Elves believe in respect for all persons and especially for the recipients; care is taken not to stand in judgment of their situation or of the circumstances that placed them in it. To protect the anonymity of the giver and to provide the gift of delight to the children, Santa Claus delivers the presents except in unusual situations. The presence of Santa Claus also eliminates any hint of condescension and the awkwardness that could be attached to the distribution as if the gifts were handouts.

The appeal of this Project lies in part in its very personal focus. Nothing is done assembly-line style. Presents are chosen and wrapped for each child in each family; Santa, to the extent that is possible, visits each family in its own home. All volunteers–with their time, their energy and their ideas–are welcome; diversity is encouraged.

Because the Project has grown in the number of families served, in the number of volunteers involved and in the geographic area covered, much advance planning must take place with the majority of the work being done in November and December when there is a building in which to work. Ultimate legal and financial responsibility rests on the Board of Directors, which is governed by Texas law concerning not-for-profit corporations and its own By-Laws. Elves who have committed to being responsible for specific components of the Project are known as the Core Volunteers and begin early in each year to make plans for the following season.

The success of a project of this nature cannot be measured in the number of dollars collected or the number of presents delivered or the number of children served. It can be measured only in the quality of the experience: the experience of the Elves, the experience of the recipients, and the experience of the entire community. The experience culminates in the moment that Santa places a brightly wrapped present in the hands of a wide-eyed child: nothing which precedes or which follows can detract from the beauty of that moment. It is to this end that the Elves are committed. It is to this end that the Elves welcome all citizens to participate in the Elf Louise Christmas Project.