Radford Elf Shelf seeks volunteers

Each year, the fellowship hall of Grove United Methodist Church is transformed into a Christmas store for families in Radford.

Heather Bell

RADFORD – There may still be a bit of time before Christmas, but the busy organizers of Radford Elf Shelf are already in high gear to prepare for this year’s effort and could use some volunteers from the community.

“It seems unbelievable with all the heat and sunshine that Christmas is just around the corner,” said Elf Shelf Volunteer Coordinator Cheryl Loving in a recent email request for volunteers. “But, it is, and that means it’s time for us to prepare and get ready for our annual Elf Shelf. You can[help] make Christmas really special for many families and children.”

This is the 26th year of Elf Shelf’s existence in Radford.

“The concept for Elf Shelf was proposed by a delegation from First Baptist Church Radford, who saw a similar program in Baltimore,” states the organization’s history on its website. “The first year of operation was 1993.At that time it was held at the Radford School Board building and there were no eligibility requirements.So, it was difficult to predict demand and ensure availability of goods. In following years, eligibility requirements were established, procedures refined, community support elicited, and Elf Shelf soon began to flourish.”

Radford Elf Shelf is now held each year at Grove United Methodist Church, usually the first weekend in December.

“Last year, we provided books, toys and gifts to 364 children and food vouchers to 226 families,” said Loving. “We are a community-wide effort involving many churches, schools, and civic organizations. Also many individuals, teams, and clubs from RU have helped us over our 25 years of existence.”

Clients will register during the month of November to shop, and then will come to Grove Church at scheduled intervals Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6 and 7, to shop for gifts for their children. Clients also receive a voucher (based on the size of the family) to shop for food at Food Lion.

“We try to create a festive shopping atmosphere where clients will feel welcome and comfortable as they select from a wide array of gifts for their children,”said Loving. “Volunteers on those days dress as Santa’s elves to aide with the shopping.”

There are several ways people can help out,Loving explained.

Groups can organize a drive to collect new books or new toys, hats, scarves, mittens, toiletries and other stocking stuffer items,or even a diaper drive, a drive to collect money or new bike.

Volunteers can also help Monday, Dec. 2 to move boxes from downstairs storage upstairs ready for set-up, or help to set up the Grove Fellowship Hall on the afternoon of Wednesday, Dec. 4 and Thursday, Dec. 5.A few volunteers also will be needed throughout the actual distribution (Friday and Saturday) to replenish tables.Help is also needed to take inventory of items left over from distribution, pack them up and carry boxes downstairs to the storage room.

“Many hands make light work, and any help anyone can give is so needed and appreciated,” said Loving.

Log onto Facebook to contact Elf Shelf about volunteering.