By Helen Hernandez
Through the spirit of giving, many students, faculty and staff members who would have gone without Christmas this year have received presents thanks to Project Elf.
Project Elf is a Phi Theta Kappa project led by its president, April Hernandez, to provide presents to Amarillo College families this Christmas. It was initiated to help 50 AC families that wouldn’t have enough money to give their children what they would like for Christmas.
“Poverty doesn’t change, and neither does the need for Christmas,” Hernandez said. “Even though I didn’t change the world, I changed a lot of people’s Christmas.”
Project Elf was the brainchild of Hernandez, whose dream came true thanks to many people who helped with Project Elf.
“It was stressful at times, but I would do it again in a heartbeat,” she said.
Project Elf was more than successful, exceeding its goal thanks to the generosity of many students, faculty and staff, raising more than $3,000 worth of donation money, gift cards and toys.
Project Elf helped more than 50 AC families, reaching more than 80 children with gifts this Christmas. The kids received one thing that they really wanted and another toy on their wish list.
Each nominee who applied was accepted and received their gifts Nov. 16 in the College Union Building basement.
Many students were emotional, and some were excited to receive their gifts. Project Elf also collected non-perishable food items for the AC Food Pantry which some families received to make Christmas dinner a little easier.
“This came as a surprise,” said an anonymous recipient. “I got nominated to get the opportunity for my kids to get a better Christmas.
“My kids will be surprised. I will wrap them myself.’’
The anonymous recipient gave thanks to the faculty member who nominated the family and to PTK for giving the family the opportunity to have gifts for their family.
“We not only helped our community, but our community at large,’’ said Dr. Brian Farmer, a PTK sponsor.
Project Elf was intended to help AC families, but through the generosity of AC families helping other AC family members, Project Elf will help other families in the community.
“We had an overabundance of toy donations for Project Elf,’’ said Christy Schroeder Psychology Club president.
The toys that were left over will be donated to Toys For Tots, and the gift cards and money will be donated to Eveline Rivers and the Ronald McDonald House of Amarillo.
“Everyone that helped give toys has a warm heart in the spirit of giving for Project Elf,’’ Schroeder said.
“We send out a thank-you to all those who helped out and made donations.’’
Hernandez said she and PTK would like to thank students, staff, faculty members, the Psychology Club, the Finishers club and anyone else who helped make Project Elf a success.
“Thanks to all the people who help make my vision come true, who had a big part or little, because without them it wouldn’t be a success,” Hernandez said.
“Thanks to them, a lot of children will be having a Christmas that they wouldn’t be having before.”