Elf service

The volunteers of Project Elf spread magic to schoolchildren year round.



Terri Hozhabri and Laurie Tilley at the Project Elf headquarters with dozens of donated winter coats.

They aren’t asking for a video game system or a Barbie doll or anything most children think they need.

These children just want a pair of socks, a warm coat or maybe some school supplies.

Project Elf is here to see that they get them.

Magically and without fanfare, the 5-year-old Project Elf program fills basic needs for thousands of Tulsa area schoolchildren every year. The volunteers — or “elves” — who donate both time and money don’t just work around the holidays. These elves spread magic year round and it comes in a plain brown bag.

Project Elf co-founders Terri Hozhabri and Laurie Tilley started the organization when Hozhabri realized that children at her son’s school were going without basic items, such as a pair of shoes or a jacket.

“Laurie and I decided that we can do something about this,” Hozhabri says.

And they did.

The two Tulsans asked 30 friends to help gather items, and Project Elf was born. Now, the volunteers number more than 500 and the 501(c)3 nonprofit helps students in 70 schools. 

The donated items, which once landed on Hozhabri and Tilley’s doorsteps, have a home in office space supplied by the Warren Foundation.

Project Elf works to meet the needs of Tulsa schoolchildren without overlapping the efforts of other nonprofits.
“We are filling the gaps and deal directly with the schools so there is no red tape,” Hozhabri says.

Project Elf’s mission is to enhance the school learning environment by providing students with the basics. These include coats, shoes, clothing, uniforms, school supplies, backpacks, hats, gloves, socks and undergarments.

Tilley says a direct correlation exists between meeting a child’s basic needs and his or her school performance. 

“The kids can’t concentrate on learning if they are cold,” she says.

Hozhabri, who also serves as Project Elf’s executive director, says the program works to “level the playing field” by also funding field trips, special projects and after-school programs at schools that would otherwise not have the money.
She says there is a story behind every need Project Elf works to meet.

“I will never forget the little girl who was wearing her grandmother’s clothes, the elementary-school boy whose eyes lit up because he never had matching pajamas before or the boy who received new shoes to replace the ones that were duct-taped together,” Hozhabri says.

School counselors, social workers and teachers who observe a need contact Project Elf directly. Material or monetary donations from the 500 volunteers fill the majority of needs.

If the needed item is not in inventory, a request is sent out to the elves.

The volunteers remain anonymous, just like Santa’s elves. When the item arrives, a Project Elf volunteer either delivers it

to the school or it is picked up at Project Elf. Hozhabri says the program’s goal is to fill every request within one week.

Diane Hensley, principal of Mark Twain Elementary School, says Project Elf helps her students and teaches them a valuable lesson.

“All of us can benefit and learn from helping others, and we need to instill that in kids very young, starting as young as 3 or 4 years old,” she says.

In a school where extra change is hard to come by, the students at Mark Twain Elementary participated in a coin drive, raising $323 for Project Elf.

Project Elf volunteer and board member Jandra Jorgenson says the organization differs from other charities because the impact is immediate.

“There is a one-on-one cause and effect that we witness,” she says. "A ‘thank you’ comes in many forms at Project Elf. Sometimes it is a smile, other times tears and, often, in handwritten notes.”

In perfect penmanship, one note reads, “Thanks to your helping hands for giving me happy feet.”

Another note, accompanied by the image of a grinning elementary-school girl, reads, “Thank you for the coat. My coat was stolen. My mom cried because she could not afford a new one.

“When I came home with one of those coats, my mom cried again but this time because she was happy. I love this coat because my favorite color is purple and I love glitter.”

Still another reads, “Thank you for the supplies and tell Santa I said hi.”

To learn how to become an elf, e-mail info@ProjectElf.org. Community partner 918moms.com proudly supports Project Elf. Visit 918moms.com/blogs/news_in_the_918 for a list of needed items and donate the items at the KOTV The News on 6 headquarters, 302 S. Frankfort Ave.

Melanie Henry co-founded 918moms.com, a community website for moms who swap stories, save money and share advice. Learn more at 918moms.com.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »You Might Like

Spirited gifts

Top-tier holiday gift ideas — in a bottle.

Bridging the gap

Early College High School helps at-risk students transition into higher education.

More with Allan Heinberg

Extended Q&A with the television producer and comic book writer.
Edit Module

Add your comment:

 

Get the best in arts, entertainment and more straight to your inbox.

Join our email list

Edit ModuleShow Tags

August 2018

The work of renowned artist Christopher Curtis will be featured at Tulsa Botanic Garden’s first sculpture exhibit March 17 through August 26. Curtis works primarily in stone and he often...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 ages 13+, $4 ages 3-12. Kids 2 and under free

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper features the life-size, trompe l’œil paper costumes of Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave (born 1946). Following a...

Cost: $12

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405-236-3100
Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

FlyingTee is fun for the whole family and on Sundays, kids eat free! *Limit one free meal from the kids’ menu with each purchase of an adult entrée. Not valid on brunches or holidays.

Cost: Free with purchase

Where:
FlyingTee
600 Riverwalk Terrace
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Telephone: 918-528-7717
Website »

More information

At the 16th annual Senior Star Round-Up, older adults will enjoy live music, dancing, refreshments and door prizes as they gather at the legendary Cain's Ballroom on August 12 from 2 - 5...

Cost: $10

Where:
Cain's Ballroom
423 N. Main St.
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Sponsor: LIFE Senior Services
Telephone: (918) 664-9000
Contact Name: Emily Fox

More information

Amanda McCavour’s ethereal environments explore themes of strength and vulnerability. Through the use of embroidery, McCavour’s delicate creations will highlight the process of building...

Cost: Free

Where:
108 Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 191-889-56302

More information

 The Mabee Center will come alive in a colorful expression of dance, drum music and song as members of tribal nations from around the country gather to honor, strengthen and share traditions...

Cost: $7-$15

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Telephone: 918-495-6000
Website »

More information

Struggling young playwright William Shakespeare, penniless and indebted to two demanding producers, is tormented by writer’s block until he meets the beautiful Viola de Lesseps, daughter of a...

Cost: $20

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E 2nd St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Sponsor: American Theatre Company
Telephone: 918-596-7111
Contact Name: Meghan Hurley
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper features the life-size, trompe l’œil paper costumes of Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave (born 1946). Following a...

Cost: $12

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405-236-3100
Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

The work of renowned artist Christopher Curtis will be featured at Tulsa Botanic Garden’s first sculpture exhibit March 17 through August 26. Curtis works primarily in stone and he often...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 ages 13+, $4 ages 3-12. Kids 2 and under free

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

As the world’s largest Mexican casual dining brand, On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina is ready to celebrate National Fajita Day with a week-long fiesta starting on Mon., Aug. 13...

Cost: $19.99

Where:
On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina
8702 E. 71st Street South
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Contact Name: Jessica Chacoff

More information

Amanda McCavour’s ethereal environments explore themes of strength and vulnerability. Through the use of embroidery, McCavour’s delicate creations will highlight the process of building...

Cost: Free

Where:
108 Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 191-889-56302

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The work of renowned artist Christopher Curtis will be featured at Tulsa Botanic Garden’s first sculpture exhibit March 17 through August 26. Curtis works primarily in stone and he often...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 ages 13+, $4 ages 3-12. Kids 2 and under free

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper features the life-size, trompe l’œil paper costumes of Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave (born 1946). Following a...

Cost: $12

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405-236-3100
Website »

More information

As the world’s largest Mexican casual dining brand, On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina is ready to celebrate National Fajita Day with a week-long fiesta starting on Mon., Aug. 13...

Cost: $19.99

Where:
On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina
8702 E. 71st Street South
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Contact Name: Jessica Chacoff

More information

Amanda McCavour’s ethereal environments explore themes of strength and vulnerability. Through the use of embroidery, McCavour’s delicate creations will highlight the process of building...

Cost: Free

Where:
108 Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 191-889-56302

More information

Hues for HOPE will include original art created by Oklahoma artists as well as art created by families around the world impacted by peroxisomal disorders. The evening will consist of...

Cost: $75.00

Where:
The Pearl District Building
1209 E 3rd St
Ste 181
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: The Global Foundation for Peroxisomal Disorders
Telephone: 817-874-9609
Contact Name: Ashlee Cabrera
Website »

More information

Starting 2nd and 4th Tuesdays in August and through September, we're teaching a progressive lindy hop swing dance series! Come learn from Kasey and Laurel, some of the best lindy hop...

Cost: Lesson: $12 Social Dance: FREE

Where:
Willows Family Ales
418 S. Peoria Ave
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: Barrelhouse Swing

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper features the life-size, trompe l’œil paper costumes of Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave (born 1946). Following a...

Cost: $12

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405-236-3100
Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

The work of renowned artist Christopher Curtis will be featured at Tulsa Botanic Garden’s first sculpture exhibit March 17 through August 26. Curtis works primarily in stone and he often...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 ages 13+, $4 ages 3-12. Kids 2 and under free

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

As the world’s largest Mexican casual dining brand, On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina is ready to celebrate National Fajita Day with a week-long fiesta starting on Mon., Aug. 13...

Cost: $19.99

Where:
On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina
8702 E. 71st Street South
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Contact Name: Jessica Chacoff

More information

Amanda McCavour’s ethereal environments explore themes of strength and vulnerability. Through the use of embroidery, McCavour’s delicate creations will highlight the process of building...

Cost: Free

Where:
108 Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 191-889-56302

More information

Where:
Mulligan's Sports & Spirits
10918 E 41st St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper features the life-size, trompe l’œil paper costumes of Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave (born 1946). Following a...

Cost: $12

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405-236-3100
Website »

More information

The work of renowned artist Christopher Curtis will be featured at Tulsa Botanic Garden’s first sculpture exhibit March 17 through August 26. Curtis works primarily in stone and he often...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 ages 13+, $4 ages 3-12. Kids 2 and under free

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

As the world’s largest Mexican casual dining brand, On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina is ready to celebrate National Fajita Day with a week-long fiesta starting on Mon., Aug. 13...

Cost: $19.99

Where:
On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina
8702 E. 71st Street South
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Contact Name: Jessica Chacoff

More information

Amanda McCavour’s ethereal environments explore themes of strength and vulnerability. Through the use of embroidery, McCavour’s delicate creations will highlight the process of building...

Cost: Free

Where:
108 Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 191-889-56302

More information

Oklahomans for Equality announces a new musical cabaret series: “Third Thursdays in the Rainbow Room. Each Third Thursday of the month will feature one of Tulsa’s finest musical...

Cost: $15 Bistro Seating / $10 G/A

Where:
Dennis R Neill Equality Center
621 East 4th
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahomans for Equality
Telephone: 918-637-2866
Contact Name: Pat Hobbs

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The work of renowned artist Christopher Curtis will be featured at Tulsa Botanic Garden’s first sculpture exhibit March 17 through August 26. Curtis works primarily in stone and he often...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 ages 13+, $4 ages 3-12. Kids 2 and under free

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper features the life-size, trompe l’œil paper costumes of Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave (born 1946). Following a...

Cost: $12

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405-236-3100
Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

As the world’s largest Mexican casual dining brand, On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina is ready to celebrate National Fajita Day with a week-long fiesta starting on Mon., Aug. 13...

Cost: $19.99

Where:
On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina
8702 E. 71st Street South
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Contact Name: Jessica Chacoff

More information

Amanda McCavour’s ethereal environments explore themes of strength and vulnerability. Through the use of embroidery, McCavour’s delicate creations will highlight the process of building...

Cost: Free

Where:
108 Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 191-889-56302

More information

Eclectic Disposition aka "DJECOG" hosts A monthly all styles dance event at the Boxyard. ​This 18+ event caters to many of the social dance scenes in Tulsa. if you are...

Cost: free

Where:
the boxyard
502 East 3rd Street
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: eclectic disposition
Telephone: (918)640-1119
Contact Name: Matthew Adams
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Muskogee War Memorial Park: Home of the USS Batfish, Oklahoma’s only submarine, is hosting its annual Living History Day: Summer Cruise! For the USS Batfish Living History Day, the...

Cost: $4-$7

Where:
Muskogee War Memorial Park
3500 Batfish Road
Muskogee, OK
View map »


Sponsor: Muskogee War Memorial Park
Telephone: 918-682-6294
Contact Name: Brent Trout
Website »

More information

The work of renowned artist Christopher Curtis will be featured at Tulsa Botanic Garden’s first sculpture exhibit March 17 through August 26. Curtis works primarily in stone and he often...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 ages 13+, $4 ages 3-12. Kids 2 and under free

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper features the life-size, trompe l’œil paper costumes of Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave (born 1946). Following a...

Cost: $12

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405-236-3100
Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

As the world’s largest Mexican casual dining brand, On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina is ready to celebrate National Fajita Day with a week-long fiesta starting on Mon., Aug. 13...

Cost: $19.99

Where:
On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina
8702 E. 71st Street South
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Contact Name: Jessica Chacoff

More information

Amanda McCavour’s ethereal environments explore themes of strength and vulnerability. Through the use of embroidery, McCavour’s delicate creations will highlight the process of building...

Cost: Free

Where:
108 Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 191-889-56302

More information

Join us for our first ever Food Truck Frenzy event! We will have a variety of delicious food trucks located in our own back yard. Grub down while listening to the band Moonshine...

Cost: $10/person

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
300 Aquarium Drive
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Aquarium
Telephone: 918-528-1507
Contact Name: Liz Medrano
Website »

More information

The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) hosts a Swing dance and lessons  The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) is the only UNESCO recognized dance organization in Oklahoma.  We are a 501c3...

Cost: $7

Where:
Community Center - South Minister Presby Church
3500 So Peoria
1/2 west of Peoria, on 35pl behind the church
Tulsa, OK  74102
View map »


Sponsor: The Ok Swing Syndicate
Telephone: 918-450-691
Contact Name: Rita Robbins
Website »

More information

Roughneck Roller Derby vs Northwest Arkansas Rollergirls Don't miss out on this family-friendly, hard-hitting fun! Kids 12 and under FREE!! Tickets: Advance - $8 At the Door - $10...

Cost: 10.00

Where:
Ninowski Recreation Center
1367 E 71st St S
Broken Arrow, OK  74112
View map »


Sponsor: Roughneck Roller Derby
Website »

More information

If the Oklahoma summer has you turning into a puddle inside your shoes, then beat the heat and chill out with the coolest comedy improv troupe in town! Come join our biggest fans (ceiling) in...

Cost: Admission is $8.00 ($4.00 for children under 12)

Where:
PH Community House
306 South Phoenix Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Laughing Matter Improv
Contact Name: Jerry Henderson
Website »

More information

Eclectic Disposition aka "DJECOG" hosts A monthly all styles dance event at the Boxyard. ​This 18+ event caters to many of the social dance scenes in Tulsa. if you are...

Cost: free

Where:
the boxyard
502 East 3rd Street
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: eclectic disposition
Telephone: (918)640-1119
Contact Name: Matthew Adams
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

TULtalk


Episode 2: Michael Broyles with Raise Your Voice!

Tulsa Opera's Raise Your Voice! program creates before- and after-school choir opportunities at public schools which no longer offer vocal music during the school day.

Comments

The decal on my car doesn’t scream ‘athlete’

Despite this, my 5-year-old daughter and I still managed to complete the Tess Trail Run benefiting the Tristesse Grief Center.

Comments

Video: Tulsa Girls Art School

Comments

Things to do in Tulsa in August

Everything from arena concerts to sand volleyball and local theater for your entertainment this month.

Comments

Staying Power

Why six alums of City Year and Teach for America now call Tulsa home

Comments