Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Project Elf in Tulsa Aims to Provide Basics without Fanfare

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Project Elf in Tulsa Aims to Provide Basics without Fanfare

Article excerpt

Terri Hozhabri watched a car pull up in her driveway. Moments later four sacks were on her front porch signaling one thing: An elf was there.

Hozhabri and Laurie Tilley started the nonprofit Project Elf to provide the basics for school children and strengthen the foundation of the community.

Terri said they got the idea to start an organization after talking about the many stories they heard of Tulsa children not fitting into shoes or having a suitable jacket for winter.

The women were ready to make a difference, but without the fanfare or chaos that some organizations can bring.

"We tried to think of something that was a helper, a secret helper - we didn't want to make a big production out of it," said Hozhabri.

The image of elves sprung to mind and Project Elf was born.

In four years the organization has grown to more than 350 volunteers and works with 40 schools. Unlike some organizations, Project Elf doesn't require its members to be present at meetings; volunteers correspond strictly through e-mail.

When Hozhabri and Tilley get tipped on a need for a blanket or school supplies they send an e-mail to their volunteer list, get responses and arrange pickup and delivery.

"It's a place to call if a child doesn't have a coat - it's so easy, there's no red tape and it can be taken care of very quickly," said Hozhabri. "It feels more personal, one-to-one, where it's someone having the need and knowing it's being fulfilled."

Hozhabri said the organization is not about keeping track of what volunteers are contributing. Project Elf doesn't require a minimum amount to donate or time spent.

Though there are no formal meetings, elves come together to host drives and collect items. A board was eventually established and every so often an open house is held at Project Elf headquarters so volunteers know what is going on behind the scenes. …

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