So what does Be An Elf do?

In a nutshell, we are focused on creating community-based and community-led solutions, that improve the quality of life of those less fortunate than ourselves. We do that by bringing people together and making great things happen. We help change lives by meeting basic needs – food, housing, education, clothing, counselling and by giving ‘at risk’ young people and their families legitimacy and emotional support.

How do we do that?

We have a number of services.

Family support groups called linkups, where struggling families can meet with other families, that are experiencing or have experienced similar problems. Are you familiar with AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)? Well, think of a group with a coach, (qualified professional) that is self-supporting and is similar in approach, but the participants may also have other drug problems, in addition to alcohol, gambling and domestic violence/life issues. They will meet for BBQ’s and family day outs. We want them to become fully functioning families for their children and to be able to provide a stable home environment. If they are homeless, we will assist them to find accommodation. We will provide budgeting advice, counselling and even offer advice on cooking and nutritional needs. Children require a roof over their heads and 3 square meals a day, to fully realize their potential.

In local schools we offer a Smart Arts program, where children and teens can express themselves through painting. Art is a powerful force for social change and allows the children to positively engage with others and the environment.

We have a community house in Moorooka, which we call Matchbox Community Centre. It is presently being renovated, but it will have an art gallery for emerging teen artists, an outdoor stage, where we will feature bands, comedy and variety shows and it will be a venue where we can offer many of our services, including counselling. It will also be a community meeting place, where young people and old can come for a cup of coffee and conversation, where local people can jointly work in the community garden or simply gather to enjoy a community BBQ. At the community centre, there will be a large whiteboard. We want local people to put suggestions on the board for what they would like to see in their neighbourhood and we will assist them to convert those suggestions into reality.

In association with the Matchbox Community Centres, we offer ancillary services to disadvantaged children and their families. We used to provide over 100 cooked meals per week, which will feed a family of 4. We want to extend this service again. We also do Homeless runs, where we load up utilities and provide sheets, blankets, clothing those who are desperately in need.

We run a major campaign at Christmas called ‘The Be an Elf Xmas Appeal’ , where we seek financial and physical donations. The ‘Be an Elf’ Appeal was very successful this year. We received national coverage in News Corp publications and The Daily Mail, as well as Quest newspapers. We get children and teens to write a wish list letter to Santa, which is then filled by generous donors. This year we all were able to make 1200 children very happy. Some of the letters were heart breaking. They asked for towels, sheets, school shoes and lunchboxes for Christmas. We delivered to houses with no furniture and often found that the young people are living in a very insecure situation. They may be couch surfing, living in cars or in crowded housing commission homes of 2-3 families, if in fact they are not homeless.

Be An Elf is a direct action, grass roots organisation, that believes in attacking a problem at the source. Many of the young people, we deal with have nutritional deficits and health issues, because of this factor. They are either eating irregularly or often for extended periods, not at all. In Winter they lack warm clothing and the clothes they do have are inadequate. Can you imagine being the one in the pre-teen and teenage social group, without any descent clothes? Forget descent clothes, what do you think it would be like to have worn, dirty clothes and shoes and to not be able to regularly shower? The children Be An Elf sees are socially isolated and lack self-esteem and as a result may tend to act out. They leave school early, get pregnant, fall in with the wrong crowd. We give them food, clothing and friendship.

 Be An Elf is helping to defeat hunger, cold and despair with local children? We are making a difference in local communities now, but we need your help to do more and to expand our volunteer network and raise even more money for disadvantaged children and teens.