Volunteer Stories

Helping Children - One Bike at a Time

Eye-Witness Accounts:

Volunteers tell what they saw, heard and felt.

Finally

“Most of us don’t have nothing to do, most of the time. Now we can play!”
      11-year old boy, Scott Plaza
      Apartments, South Houston
      From video

What’s going on

“Do you children know what’s going on here? Do you know who these people are? Do you know that they have brought all these bikes and gifts to you out of the kindness of their hearts? Show them some appreciation for what they’re doing for you; let them know you care.”

Then she hugged one of the volunteers, and others in the crowd stopped what they were doing and hugged the other volunteers too.
      Grandmother, Little York Road,
      Reported by Paul H.

What I got

“I got a bike! I got a BIKE! I GOT a B-I-K-E!!!”
      8-year old boy, Scott Plaza
      Apartments, South Houston
      Reported by Kristin W.

This place?

“I can’t believe you people are coming into this place with all these gifts. No one ever comes here. Can I help you do this next year?”
      Teen gang member, 5th Ward
      Reported by Shane C.

This place?

“Be An Elf This Christmas – There’s Still Time! Several wonderful REI employees, some of whom also brought along family and friends, converged upon Reliant Center earlier this week. We joined volunteers from across Houston learning to put together 16,000 bicycles for Elves & More. These bikes will be Christmas gifts for underprivileged kids in the Houston area this holiday season, all thanks to the efforts of volunteers like you and me, and the amazing generosity of David Moore.

You see, David really is Santa. Every holiday, he buys thousands of bikes with his own money in hopes he'll recover as much as possible in donations, but also counting on volunteer support to get them all assembled and delivered by Christmas. I've been fortunate enough to be involved with nonprofit organizations and volunteer projects for several years, and have seen many beautiful sights. Still, little compares with seeing hundreds of bike parts and smiling volunteers of all ages and backgrounds working together to teach and learn enough to get all these bikes assembled. The site of so many finished bikes is like icing on the cake!

Another shipment arrived this weekend with hundreds more bicycles to assemble. If you have any free time at all, or maybe a touch of the holiday blues to cure, make your way down to Reliant Halls (free parking for Elves & More volunteers) and roll up those sleeves. Meet other amazing volunteers. Learn something about how bikes go together, or better yet, teach another! Above all, give of yourself in a way that is uniquely rewarding this holiday. You'll create a new and special holiday memory for yourself, and possibly a new seasonal tradition. Hey, it's my second year and I'm hooked! Learn more about this effort at www.ElvesAndMore.org. Happy Holidays to you and yours!”

      Sheryl

Do my part

“The angels dropped out of heaven to take care of my kids. Now it’s time for me to do my part.” (This woman kicked her drug habit starting that day and four months later was still drug-free.)
      Crack-addict mother,
      Oak Leaf Apts., Aldine
      Reported by Shane C.

That jacket

“We were just at Wal-Mart. While standing in line, a young girl about 8 or 9 started tapping her mother on the arm and saying (about Shane), ‘Mom he has a jacket on.’ The mother said, ‘So?’ The child said, ‘No, he has on a jacket like the one the man had on who gave me my bike!’ So the lady asked me about it. We had a long talk, and found out they live on Gulf Bank, at CopperTree Apts. She had nothing but praise for E&M, and wanted to send along her Thank You’s to everyone for that wonderful day!

THIS is why we do what we do: The kids!!!!!!!!!!!”

      Terry C.

Worth it

“On our last stop (the one that night), I admit that I was feeling a little apprehensive about being there. That all went away when I was talking to a grandmother and she was saying how excited her grandson (probably about 5) was about his new bike. I bent down to talk to him and he had a huge smile on his face. Then, without warning, he gave me a big hug. That made it all worth it.”
      Bonita M.

Warm Christmas

“By the time I picked up my car at the Reliant Center it was about 9:00. My kids and I dropped off the van and headed home. When I got about half way home -- I realized that I didn't have things ready for my own family for Christmas. I just shook my head and went on home. When I got there, I explained to my kids {ages 7, 8, and 9} (whom we told several months ago about the Santa Secret) that Christmas may be delayed the following day because of the full day that I had just experienced. They didn't seem to mind and by the time we actually had our own Christmas the next day it was in the night. What a special time that was because we could still feel the warmth of serving others.”
      Bonita M.

French Food

“Thank you, thank you, for letting me be a part of your team. I have never been so tired any Christmas Eve as i was this Christmas Eve, but never had so much joy in my heart. I now have a real appreciation for how much time and money you have put in to this project. I can't believe how many lives you have impacted by this movement to help people.

If you think about it, you have not only impacted the people you gave bicycles and gifts to, but everyone who contributed anything to this. Each gets to go away with a different look on life and a new view on everything that is of the heart. I have witnessed so many people with so much to give, but who needed someone like you to give them direction. I saw people who were working, organizing, planning and instead could be sleeping but didn't need that sleep for some reason. I don't know how you and your girlfriend coordinated so many things at once, and how you worked so many hours nonstop; there was so much to do but somehow you did it--yes you did it.

There were so many hard working people also unloading trucks. At our last stop—McGowan St.--there was this little girl that really impressed me, an artist from Paris, France; just a little dynamo. She could lift and jerk those bicycles off the pile to unload better than two men and, after working all day, I tried to keep up with her, but she had so much adrenalin pumping there was no stopping her. I think I will start eating French food! If i could be her size and have that much strength i would truly be happy.
I want to say thank you, again, for letting me be a part of this very wonderful part of your giving and caring heart.”

      Wayne C.

Moved

“Look, I’m a fairly jaded guy; I’m not easily moved by things and I never show my feelings. But you were right, I laughed and I cried, and so did my wife, and she’s a tough cookie, too. Let me tell you something else. I’ve been involved in charities for 25 years and I’ve never done anything more important than this.”
      Don H.

The best

“Thanks for the best Christmas ever!”
      Veon M.

Uncommon perspective

“For Christmas I want you to help build those bikes for Elves & More and then give them to needy children. That’s all I want. I already have enough toys. I want to do something for someone else who doesn’t have any,” said Sarah, the 6-year old daughter of a volunteer, whose name I don’t recall. For four nights her father diligently built bikes; then, on Christmas Eve, father and daughter delivered them to kids, a memory neither will ever forget.
      Reported by David M.

No limits

Day after day, Kirby worked tirelessly, assembling and repairing bicycles, often far into the night. Once he was the last to leave (1:30 a.m.); next morning he was the first to arrive (6:30 a.m.). In the hours between he delivered the remaining wrapped sandwiches uneaten by volunteers to homeless people under the bridges.
      Reported by Kelley F.

A working mantra

“I heart him say: ‘Made another kid happy’ as he completed each bike. He said it with such joy and enthusiasm that I found myself imitating him, and others did too. All around our work area you could hear ‘made another one happy’ or ‘made another kid happy;’ it became our mantra. It gave purpose to what we were doing, and made the time really fly by.”
      George L.

My faith

According to Dennis, “Late last night, while at work, I heard about Elves & More on the radio. It was 11:00 p.m., but I went home and started building this [a set of bike-stand hooks, mounted on wooden rails, on a trailer pulled behind his car] so I could come and help out. Community service is part of my faith.” Next afternoon Dennis came to help; he organized team-building lines to speed-up bike assembly. Six more days and nights he stayed with the program until the last gift was delivered on Christmas Eve.
      Reported by David M.

Forever

“I was overwhelmed to be a part of Elves & More this year. It was particularly wonderful to spend the time with [13-year old] Kary on Christmas Eve. I have witnessed her recount her experience time and again to family and friends. The hand-written note that we received with a big hug from one of the mothers will be something that we will both remember forever. Count us in for next year.”
      Grant G.

The gift

“Thank you for the opportunity to serve our Houston Children by being a part of the Elves & More program this year. It truly brings to life that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive.’ What a gift for us to be a part of something so incredibly special.”
      Tom

Now that I know

“Having never heard of Elves and More prior to coming down and assisting in the bike project this year, I cannot tell you how amazed I was to find that there was a group such as this in the Houston area. I cannot tell you the amount of fun I had getting together with a few guys and coming down to put some bicycles together. Had I known prior to the middle of December, I would have volunteered to give more of my time and energy. It is in knowing this now that I would like to provide my resources in achieving the goal for 2004”.
      Michael

Here for me

“I only came down here in the first place because my company told me to come. That was three days ago. Now, I’m here for me. We’re doing something really important here and I want to be a part of it. I’m going to help finish making these bikes and then I’m taking my family with me to help give them away on Christmas Eve.” Reported by Don H. re: a conversation with a volunteer

Real

“Thank you for the wonderful opportunity Elves & More provided, not only for the community, but to me. I have never been a part of more real and giving Charity Organization. This was the best feeling to help provide to underprivileged kids. What an awesome job the Elves & More staff did. Hats off to all of you.”
      Sharon

Lessons

“A real joy for me was seeing my 16-year old stepson participate -- a small beginning, but a beginning nonetheless, of a realization of the value of service to our fellow man.”
      Greg

Teen Talk

“Thank you for such a wonderful experience. My husband, my three boys and I helped out with the bikes and delivery. It was very good to listen to the boys (19, 17. and 15) telling others of their experiences. When we spoke to other people, they asked to be involved this year - we will follow up with them.”
      Rebecca R.

Rewarding

“The 2003 Elves & More effort was one of the most significant volunteer experiences in which I have recently participated. Working with the children as well as with the other volunteers, particularly David L., was certainly as rewarding to me as it was to those the program is intended to serve.”
      Jim

Warm

“It was a pleasure and joy working with a bunch of warm, generous, and caring people. Our group of people from Houston Chinese Church had a wonderful time helping out and you can be sure to see us again this Christmas.”
      Vivien C.

So many ways

“I want to thank you for the opportunity that you and the other organizers of Elves & More have provided to me and so many others. I came in on Saturday and helped with safety checks and organizing for loading. Tuesday, I drove in one of the trucks and helped load up. On Wednesday I was able to drive a van for one of the caravan and give out the gifts.

This event has fulfilled the needs of so many, in many different ways. First and foremost it fills the needs of the children. It also has allowed many parents to know that their children have received a precious gift that they may not have been able to provide otherwise. But, you have also filled a need of the general community: the need for a worthy cause that they can contribute to. Many of us give of our money, time and talent through our churches, but this allows us to reach a much wider group. I greatly appreciate the opportunity you have given me. You have provided me and several thousand other volunteers with the chance to give back to the communities and the children a small portion of our time and talent.”

      Steven


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