Photos by Nancy Kent
Radford Elf Merle Jones picks up boxes to collect toys and gifts for families in need in Radford.

Radford’s Elf Shelf is now collecting toys and books from the community for Radford kids and families in need. Donations of new toys and gifts will be collected at multiple locations ‘til Nov. 25.

Over its twenty-five years, the Elf Shelf program has garnered significant community support, getting gifts to 378 children and food vouchers to 241 families in Radford last year.

“Any Radford family or individual who meets the Federal 200% Poverty Guidelines

receives a food voucher to a local grocery store and new toys and books for their children under the age of 18,” according to Ann Walker who is organizing the project this year.

The event takes place at Grove United Methodist (1020 Tyler Avenue). Toys are assigned point values roughly equivalent to dollar amounts and displayed according to age groups. When parents arrive for their appointments, a volunteer helps them shop for their children. Each child being shopped for is allowed an allotted number of points and bonus items.

“There are people all over Radford engaged in this all year,” photographer Nancy Kent, who has photographed for the group for years, said.

Businesses, churches, and stores contribute too.

“Barnes and Noble has contributed books by the pick-up load. It’s hard to know how many volunteers there are. The boxes have been papered by kids and more kids set up and take down the tables, and college organizations help too Retired librarians man the book table to help people find books children will like,” Kent said, “It’s a tremendous effort and they’ve got it down to a real science.”

“The turnout and generosity of people is really great when they see the project is organized well,” Kent said.

Jesse Ring was on hand last week to help with picking up boxes to take to Radford Elf Shelf distribution spots.

Toys and gifts can be brought to collection sites at multiple locations: National Bank, BB&T Bank, River City Grill, Dollar General Store, First Community Bank, First New River Valley Credit Union, Union Bank, Dalton Intermediate School, Radford High School, PRS Towing, Pizza House, SunTrust Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, Sharkey’s, Dr. Stephen McCuin, Carter Bank and Trust.

Monetary gifts may be mailed to Radford Elf Shelf, PO Box 358, Radford, VA 24143, and are accepted any time.

“It’s that time of year again and empty boxes need to be filled with Christmas cheer!” Walker said.

For more information contact Ann Walker [email protected] or 577-1988.

—Liz Kirchner

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