Radford Elf Shelf gives toys and food vouchers to 165 families

New River Valley News

RADFORD, Va. (WFXR) — For the 27th year, the Radford Elf Shelf will be helping low-income families get through the holidays with presents under the tree and food on the table.

Elf Shelf gives qualified applicant families food vouchers that can be used at the local Food Lion and at least $50 worth of gifts for each child, up to 18 years old, in that family, including two books for each child and a blanket for infants.

The program is run almost entirely on private donations from Radford citizens.

“This is citizens helping other citizens because these gifts are given to Radford families,” said Radford Elf Shelf board member Penny Sweet.

This year, Elf Shelf partnered with Truliant Federal Credit Union out of Winston-Salem, as a part of the credit union’s Brighter Days Holiday Initiative.

Truliant is working with community organizations like Elf Shelf in the Carolinas and Virginia.

They expect an impact to more than 2,300 individuals through funding utility and rent assistance, food and meal delivery, gift cards to purchase toys for foster children and children at domestic abuse centers, local food pantries, headphones for virtual learning students, kid’s shoes and coats, emergency needs items for students, and more.

“We can all agree that 2020 has been challenging,” said Truliant Director of Marketing Tricia Beeker. “We’re here to shine a light on these dark days and help our community see Brighter Days during the holidays.”

One hundred sixty five Radford families will be receiving food vouchers, and 105 of those will receive gifts for the kids, 253 kids in total. However, this is a much lower number than folks like Sweet expected.

In 2019, Radford Elf Shelf provided gifts to 350 Radford children and food vouchers to 215 Radford families.

According to Sweet, this could be due in part to changes to the application period. Families only had until Oct. 15 to apply for Elf Shelf.

Sweet advises families who are in need of similar services to check with the local Social Services or Salvation Army.

It’s a wonder Elf Shelf is able to happen, at all, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thanks to quick adaptations, each family’s gifts and vouchers are individually packed, and families are given specific days and times to pick them up.

“I’m so glad that we’re still able to do this,” Sweet said. “I’m really proud of all the volunteers we have and for the citizens for helping us out so much.”

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