Project Give, the joint effort by the Montessori School and Peter Gruber International Academy that gave individual Christmas presents to each Jane E. Tuitt Elementary School student last year, has gotten Santa stuck in the chimney. This year Project Give needs $3,000 to get Santa out of the chimney and into the Tuitt School for the Dec. 18 Christmas party.
Under the guidance of Montessori Rotary Interact Club advisor Elizabeth Elger, a handful of students created Project Give last year and, in about a week, raised a staggering $10,000.
Elger said she was told last year that “it couldn’t be done last year."
"People said we’d never raise that. Well, we did it in five days," she said.
Elger, a young and vibrant personality new to the campus last year, simply doesn’t take "no" for an answer. "Failure is just not an option," she said at the time and set out to prove it.
Her plan was not only give the presents, but to answer the students’ requests in their letters to Santa. And each student got what they asked for, or as nearly as possible.
Elger said on Thursday that the group is $3,000 short of its $10,000 goal this year, a figure based on $50 for each of the 200 children.
"I figured since last year lots of people gave so readily that this year would be no problem," Elger said Thursday. "I haven’t been nearly as aggressive as I should have been. I was so desperate and adamant last year."
Last year Elger hit up her parents in the states and had them get all their friends to donate as well. "I haven’t done that this year," she said. "I want the local community to be involved."
Lots of people have gone shopping already for individual gifts, she said. "We’ve counted that into the current figure."
Elger has already received donations from Rotary Club of St. Thomas Sunrise, whose adopted school is Tuitt Elementary, and Project Give has already started its shopping.
"We hit Black Friday," she said. "Wow, we spent $2,200 and saved $1,300!"
Again this year, Elger and her elves are out scouring the shops to make certain the children get what they want, after sorting through the 200 letters to Santa.
And just what do they want?
"Well," Elger said, "the usual – Baby Alive, Barbies, remote control cars and helicopters. And one little girl who said she wants "a toy for my 1-week-old brother, perfume for my mother and candy."
Donations are coming from far and wide. Elger said a friend from England sent a donation, as well as Osa Notting of Vibe collection on St. John, closer to home.
To donate, contact Elger at firstname.lastname@example.org. Credit cards and checks are accepted and are tax deductible.