Santa has a new Elf! KidsGiving365, which produces the holiday program “Santa’s Elves,” has merged with the faith-based charitable organization The Denver Dream Center. We couldn’t be more thrilled that eight years of hard work creating volunteer opportunities for kids of all ages will live on.
The partnership means more children will get the chance to perform community service and learn about philanthropy. It also means that more children in need will get presents during the holidays. We care about teaching children to give back because studies show it teaches them about kindness, respect and empathy. Kids involved in philanthropy also do better in school, and are less likely to become pregnant and try drugs.
The Denver Dream Center (DDC) shares the same mission as KidsGiving365 in wanting to create the next generation of givers. While the DDC will run Santa’s Elves during the holidays, it also offers programs for kids to volunteer year-round in its Adopt-a-Block, Go Kids and Dream Closet programs. Once you meet Pastor Bryan Sederwall, aka “Pastor B” and his amazing team, we know you’ll love them as much as we do.
The DDC has full-time, paid staff. With that kind of support, the DDC will take Santa’s Elves to a new level. Even better, the DDC has a wonderful relationship with the Denver Housing Authority, which plays an integral part of Santa’s Elves by connecting you with underserved children in the area. We are grateful and thankful the DDC is willing to continue building relationships in our community and serving children through Santa’s Elves.
The journey from having an idea to teach my then 4-year-old son about giving back in 2010 to a full-fledged community-backed nonprofit with a board of directors, fundraisers and sponsors has been life-changing. It was eight years of small miracles, of new friendships, of trying, failing, and trying again; of challenging each other to do more, do better, and to serve just one more child…
The people who stepped up and worked alongside me every day are my heroes. They are the smartest, most creative, positive, talented and helpful people I’ve ever known. While I’m tempted to try, I can’t name them all here because then I’m sure to forget one name, and that would be a travesty. That being said, the core team of volunteers, executive committee, and board of directors were instrumental in delivering the mission and creating measurable impact in the community and in the lives of children. They invested countless hours, provided wise counsel, gave from their own pockets, and guided the organization.
Thank you to the hundreds of volunteers. The thousands of participants. Every giving child. Every Denver Housing Authority coordinator and their manager Tsehai Teklehaimanot! Thank you James Salinas of the Rude Recreation Center. Thank you sponsors. Thanks to our media partner, KOOL105 radio (Jim Berry!) Thank you journalists for sharing our story with Coloradans. Thank you Carl Grismore who, the moment he heard my crazy idea years ago, was the first person to stand up and say, “I’ll help.” Thank you wrappers, shoppers, donors, businesses and supporters. Thank you web elf (Lenny!)
Mostly, we thank the moms and dads living in the Denver Housing Authority who let us into their world for a couple of days every year and trusted us to help their kids. While your kids appreciated the gifts, we loved their smiles and laughter. We absolutely lived for them.
This is not goodbye. It’s the beginning of a new chapter of Santa’s Elves, with The Denver Dream Center at the helm. If you love Santa’s Elves, please continue giving and participating through the DDC. Together, we’re going to keeping making a difference.
I want to sign off by leaving you with some things I learned being an elf:
- No elf can make all of the toys. Elves need other elves.
- One elf and one toy can change a child’s life.
- When things go wrong, wait and watch. A different answer will present itself.
- In the darkest of hours, don’t play it safe. Go all in. Santa delivers miracles when you need them most.
- An elf can be a friend for life.
- It feels really good to give.
- When you’re unsure about what to do, trust the smart, talented elves around you. They have the answers. Let go of the reins.
- Stuff stockings with gratitude, wonder, compassion and adventure.
- Respect a child’s wish list. Just because they were born into poverty doesn’t mean they want different toys than other children. They all see the same advertisements and have the same desires for cool clothes, computers, video games and other, often expensive, things.
- Give children toys that will spark imagination and movement.
- After giving a gift, don’t expect anything in return. Not a smile, not a thank-you letter, not a token of appreciation. The act of kindness is your reward.
Deborah Sherman, President & Co-Founder of KidsGiving365