A local girl and her four friends are inspiring the community to reach out and be charitable this holiday season.
Angelina Tropper, Sophie Chanzy, Kala Crawford, Isabel Birett and Georgian Russell — all 10 years old — are learning an important life lesson: It's better to give than to receive.
Collectively known as The Care Gift Elves, the group from Toronto's east end is making a difference by helping those in need — and their achievements speak volumes about kids these days.
These young powerhouses collect donations for neighborhood shelters, write care cards to kids and moms in shelters and raised about $400 selling their own things in a yard sale for Syrian kids in a refugee camp among other things.
Angelina and her mother, Katharina Mertens-Tropper, started The Care Gift Elves initiative last year after a talk about life's true necessities led Angelina to want to volunteer at the Red Door Family Shelter. Unfortunately, the shelter doesn't allow those under 16 to do so.
Rather than feeling defeated, the duo took matters into their own hands, enlisting the help of Angelina's closest friends to collect in-kind donations and fill gift boxes with toys and toiletries, sweets and warm clothing among other items.
"Angelina quickly got her friends involved and instead of just having their regular play dates, they turned the one-time Christmas shoe box gift drive into their mission along with spreading kindness and joy in the east end," Katharina says.
Now they're raising the bar: The five girls are hoping to top last year’s donations by collecting 200 shoe boxes filled with donations for kids and 50 additional bags or boxes for women.
So far, nine east end business have supported this year's drive including Silly Goose Kids, Ed’s Real Scoop
Good Neighbour, Queen Books, Re: Reading, Toronto Yoga Mamas, Common Sort, Mastermind Toys and
Ralph Thornton Community Centre.
The Care Gift Elves are inviting kids of all ages from the east end to an arts and crafts event at the Ralph Thornton Centre on Nov. 25 from 12:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. It's also an opportunity to donate gently used holiday decorations and artificial trees.
"It will be an opportunity to join the Elves to spread some joy and kindness by making Christmas tree decorations and writing CARE notes for families, mothers and kids at the shelter," she says. "We will be collecting donations for Christmas trees that will be distributed to families that are transitioning from the shelter to housing."
The Care Gift Elves will be canvassing in the east end this holiday season, handing out flyers and going from door to door in the neighborhood. If you'd like to get involved and make a donation, message the group on their Facebook and Twitter pages which are regularly updated.