Elves on a Winning Streak

Elves on a Winning Streak
Posted on 12/21/2017
Image of Case Student Receiving Gifts From Santa's Elves(Published 12/20/17 ohio.com, writer Theresa Cottom)

Contrary to popular belief, Santa’s elves come in all shapes and sizes.

Sure, some have short statures, pointy ears and Christmas-colored frocks. But the elves buzzing through Akron elementary schools Wednesday had none of that — just matching red sweatshirts that read “We Are Family” on the front.

Two days this week, the LeBron James Family Foundation helped give away more than 6,100 toys to kids in preschool through second grade across 27 elementary schools and nine preschools.

What started as a simple partnership between the foundation and the Hudson-based Little Tikes company turned into a full-blown toy giveaway a few years back. Little Tikes donates the toys to the foundation, while volunteers from Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. help sort them. Thomas Limousine and Two Men and a Truck help deliver the toys and transport volunteers. And Swensons keeps everyone’s bellies full.

“It’s just gotten bigger and bigger,” said Michele Campbell, the executive director of the LeBron James Family Foundation, about the toy drop, which is in its third year.

On the first day of the giveaway Wednesday, the foundation visited 15 schools.

In a small classroom at Case Elementary, volunteers bustled around the room, working quickly to load boxes onto wagons and unload them on tables according to age and gender. Within minutes, the room transformed into a mini toyland. Rows of Bratz dolls and Little Tikes Tire Twisters lined the tables, while stacks of Hot Hoops and Lalaloopsy dolls sat several boxes high.

As kids entered in a single-file line, they gasped in delight — not just at the toys but also at Santa Claus, who was greeted with a swarm of hugs from each class that walked in.

“Look what Santa gave me!” exclaimed first-grader Gavin Williams, holding up his Tire Twisters toy. “I can’t wait to get back so I can drive my cool tire.”

“I thought I was gonna get a small toy, but this is so fun!” added first-grader Elijah Barlow, who had the same toy.

Small smiles became toothy grins as kids headed back to their classrooms, each with a brand-new toy for Christmas.

“It is so amazing,” said Nicole Hassan, an instructional liaison between Akron Public Schools and the foundation. “The kids are adorable. It’s just a great way to kick off the holiday.”

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