Operation Phoenixville Elves hold annual wrapping party

Volunteers for Operation Phoenixville Elves wrap gifts Sunday at the Great American Pub.

PHOENIXVILLE — A hearty group of “Elves” gathered Sunday at the Great American Pub to wrap gifts and spread a little bit of the holiday season cheer to local families in need.

After starting in 2014 with just about about 12 families, Operation Phoenixville Elves is now working to help more than 250 needy families in the greater Phoenixville community this year — helping out with everything from gifts to special holiday meal supplies.

According to Lisa Longo, the former Phoenixville Board of Education President, who has helped to shepherd the organization since it started in 2014, the entire effort started with an inquiry to help. a single family in the Phoenixville area in need amd has grown every year, partnering with various local businesses and civic leaders.

On the organization’s Website (www.opelves.com), Longo explains the history of the Elves:

“Operation Phoenixville Elves started in 2014 with a single phone call,” Longo notes. “I received a call from a dear friend, Rosa Davila, asking me if I knew any way to help a family that didn’t have enough money to provide their children with gifts for Christmas.  I knew my friends and colleagues would want to help.  A few calls, a post on Facebook, some emails to my network and we were on our way.  It was fun and unlike anything we had done before.  I asked the mom of these children for letters to Santa.  We talked about what they liked to do, their favorite colors, and hobbies.  We also talked about what they needed, not just what they wanted.

“Word of our endeavors spread and that first year we helped 6 or 7 families and provided gifts for 12 children.  We were also fortunate to have Christmas hams and turkeys donated by Uncle B’s BBQ Shack for 3 of our families.

“In 2015, the expansion was tremendous.We provided toys, games, art supplies, books, science kits, food, diapers, clothing, and yes, elf magic.  Every family submits a wish list.  The list may be for basic necessities.  The parents might say “We need shoes, socks, clothes, diapers, food.  We don’t need toys.”  And every time I would tell them that we are going to help you with what you need, but we are also going to get you some elf magic.

“The elves also grew from the two women Santa’s Workshop in my living room to a community of volunteers and support.  Stable 12 Brewery provided storage space, a drop off location, and a place to host our Community Wrap Parties.  The Head Elves came into existence to keep things organized, and they are a force to be reckoned with. Their organizational skills made our enormous growth possible.”

Although the organization is not a 501(c)3 — which means donations to it are not tax deductible — every dollar of donations goes directly to those in need. Longo notes that the organization is hoping to be brought in under the umbrella of a larger 501(c)3 organization to make future donations tax deductible.

The organization offers these suggestions to folks who would like to help:

* Contributions can be made either via PayPal (link at right) or at our bank, Royal Bank America located at 124 Main Street, Phoenixville, PA. More details.

* You may also help by becoming an elf and either donating a specific item from our wish list or by donating all items for a child or even a whole family.   We also gladly accept donations of Christmas stockings, Christmas wrapping paper, unused gift boxes, tissue paper, bows, tape, and gift labels.  Drop off  at ( To be determined) or bring to a Wrap Party

*  Form your own Elf Group! This is a really fun way to join in with family, friends, and colleagues to spread holiday cheer.  We have plenty of families who need your help.  You can create a fundraiser, donate the money collected, and the Elves will gladly do the shopping for you.  Or you can pick a child/family and be Santa too! Click here for list of Children/Families.

* Participate in our Community Wrap Parties! This is one of the most special things we do.  We understand that not everyone is in a position to donate money or wish list items.  Your most valuable gift, your time, is greatly needed as well.  Spending the day wrapping the many gifts that are purchased and donated is an amazing experience.  In 2015, our Community Wrap Parties were amazing and truly captured the holiday joy.  The participants had fun, made new friends, and further forged a sense of community that has stayed with us long after the last present was delivered.  Get more information on these wrapping parties here.

If you know of, or are a family who could use assistance this Christmas season, please submit a completely confidential request for help here.

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