FAQ

1. General

Operation ELF receives the specific wishes of each child and those wishes are shared to generous sponsors like you, who are willing to bring magic to their holidays.

We are a registered 501(c)3 charitable organization registered with the federal government. We are an all-volunteer organization – we have no paid staff and no office.

Various agencies and sponsoring shelters reach out to us requesting help for the children in their care. The children we serve are in at-risk situations across Massachusetts and greater New England. The local referring community agencies review each child’s situation prior to including them in our program.  These agencies have attested that these children would not receive any gifts during the holiday without Operation ELF’s help.

In the last 3 years, we have provided gifts to between 1400 and 1700 children each year in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.  We will serve as many children as we can.

Sponsorship is the real magical part of ELF. Aspiring elves, like yourself, asking their neighbors, friends, co-workers and families to join them in sponsoring a child’s wish is what really creates a ‘family-like’ community. With so many children’s wishes, a lot of magic is needed.

Over time, the mission of Operation ELF has been shared by word of mouth with almost no advertising. We are happy that all our volunteers tell everyone about their experience of ELF, and often encourage their friends, families and colleagues to join them here and also like us on social media.

Unfortunately, no. We protect the privacy of the children and their families – many of whom are in shelters – by only identifying each child with a code number.  That is why we need to code each gift delivered to our sites!

When we send you the child’s wishlist, we send you the name and address of where you can drop off or ship the gifts to the ELF volunteers who open their homes or work place.  These volunteers “check it twice” and make sure that each child has gifts from their wishlist.  We bag up the gifts with the code numbers and deliver them to the agencies.

The agencies deliver the gifts to the children in the way that is most appropriate for their family.  For example, some have the parents wrap the gift from Santa, some have a holiday party where the children get their gifts.  Because our recipients come from different religions and cultures, we are flexible.

When you sign up to be a sponsor, there is a space on the sign-up form for notes.  Please use that to give any preferences and we will do our best to fulfill it given the children we have.

Please contact us by completing this form.  We will be in contact with you shortly and verify qualification.  We are unable to take individual requests, as we require vetting by an agency.

2. Shopping

  1. On the sponsorship form, please specify the number of children you wish to sponsor.
  2. Select your preferred dropoff location. (see the map)  Some locations have restricted hours or days when they can receive drop off gifts.  Please check the days and times to make sure it will work for you before selecting the dropoff location.
    Select “No preference” if you will be mailing your gifts.
  3. You will be matched with a child’s specific wishes as soon as we receive them from their referring agency.
  4. Clear instructions will be included in your confirmation email and you take it from there!

We thank you for being willing to create holiday magic! You’re on your way to becoming an ELF yourself!

We start receiving the lists of wishes from the agencies and shelters in mid-November.  We immediately start assigning them to sponsors.  Sometimes we don’t get the list until after Thanksgiving. We do our best to get you the wishlist as quickly as we can, but we depend on the agency that gets the wishes from the child’s parent or guardian.

  • Spend $40 – $60 per child
  • Do not wrap gifts
  • Provide batteries for gifts that require them

Some of our volunteers who have been shopping for many children for decades got together and created a Shopping Tips for Sponsors.  You don’t have to do it this way.  Some of our sponsors team up and shop for 30 or more children.  This is some of their advice.[TBD?]

No wrapping, please.  Our volunteers look at every gift to make sure that it is close enough to match the child’s wishlist.

Life happens, we know.  Please let us know at Sponsor@operationelf.org as soon as you possibly can, so that we can get another sponsor to shop for your child.  It is important that every child is covered!

3. Logistics

Starting in mid-November, you will get an email from us with the wishlist from the child or children you are sponsoring. That email will give you the exact address and instructions for dropping off gifts, and the exact mailing address if you plan to mail it.  Please put the child’s code number on all the bags or packages so we can deliver it correctly!

The email you get from us starting around mid-November will give you the exact address to ship or mail the gifts.  Please put the child’s code number in the actual mailing address of the package so we can determine who it is for.

Reach out to us at Sponsor@operationelf.org and we will work with you to find an alternate drop off or possibly arrange to pick up if necessary.

We are asking for you to include your phone number this year in case there is a question regarding your gifts or sponsorship. We will not use it for any other purpose. We hope we will never need it.

Yes, you can.  Contact us at Sponsor@operationelf.org for one of our alternate drop off locations.