How do you select the neighborhood?
We keep our neighborhood a secret until just minutes before the big event. With the exception of only a few select individuals, nobody knows exactly where we are going until just moments before leaving the main staging area. We do this because we just can’t take a chance on that information being leaked. Not only would it would ruin the element of surprise but we would inevitably be delivering bicycles to families that did not actually live in the target area. With that being said, we chose the name Elves & More of Northeast Ohio, because that is our target area. Northeast Ohio. In the past 9 years, we have given away nearly 9,000 bicycles to various neighborhoods in Northeast Ohio. In 2015, we plan on delivering 1,500 bicycles or age appropriate gifts to another area that needs some joy and hope somewhere in Northeast Ohio and just like in the previous nine years, it will remain a secret.
What criteria is used in selecting the neighborhood?
We consider a few things when selecting a neighborhood. First we look at how many gifts we will be able to buy. Then we look at areas known to be plagued with poverty and crime. We want to go where we will make a difference. An important component to the area is that it should have some type of boundary. The neighborhood has to be defined. We will not have children standing on one side of a street wondering why the don’t get to enjoy Christmas while children on the other side of the street are riding shiny new bikes. We look for natural boundaries like lakes, highways, industrial areas, etc. Once we narrow our search to a few neighborhoods where the demographics fit, we meet with local community centers and outreach programs to establish a reason why the children in each neighborhood would be the best choice. It is important to remember we don’t just drop off bikes and run. We act as a conduit for the children in the neighborhood to ride their bikes to a community center, or other place where they may find a positive influence in their lives.
Do you provide locks with all of the bikes?
Unfortunately, we just don’t have the money in the budget for locks. Our experience has shown that because every kid in the neighborhood gets a bike, theft is almost non-existent. Kids don’t feel a need to take what they already have.