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Community : Top Stories Last Updated: Nov 26, 2013 - 7:05:40 PM


Charleston Elves brings Christmas to deserving families affected by cancer
By Katherine Smith
Nov 26, 2013 - 7:03:37 PM

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This group of Elves posed for a picture at last year's gift wrapping party.

With hundreds of local charities to choose from, finding a way to give back to the community during the holidays isn’t that hard to do. Yes, it takes some financial resources and a bit of time, but the payback is huge. Knowing that you have helped someone is one of the best feelings in the world. And for one Daniel Island business, CSS International, making a difference for deserving families through a charity close to home is what is important during the holidays.  
CSS employee, Greg Pressley knows the feeling of “helping someone” all too well because he is the mastermind behind the local organization, Charleston Elves. What began as a small operation that he and a buddy started in Atlanta, Charleston Elves has blossomed into a charity that has helped provide Christmas to over 500 children over the last eight years. With Pressley’s hard work and the financial backing from CSS, Charleston Elves has become an organization with volunteers from the Charleston community that is committed to giving needy children a special Christmas.
When Pressley was just 12-years old, he says a seed was planted in him that one day he would make a difference in the world. Having witnessed a family lose their home to a fire on Christmas Eve, young Pressley couldn’t bear to think the children would not have any presents to open on Christmas morning. So by convincing his parents that he wanted to help the fire-victim children by giving them gifts, a seed was planted that would eventually become Charleston Elves later when he was an adult.
“I would not remember the events of that night until I reached my early thirties when a friend of mine was telling me about helping a needy family for Christmas,” says Pressley.  “I suddenly remembered that Christmas Eve when I was twelve and the burning house and the children sitting helpless in the front yard. This memory or seed that God had planted years ago was still growing. I asked my friend if I could help. The Elves organization was officially started.”
Charleston Elves partners with Courageous Kidz, which is a local non-profit that works to create a safe haven for kids with cancer and their families. Courageous Kidz finds well deserving families who are struggling because of the impact cancer has on them financially. Charleston Elves finds sponsors for these families (or individual children) during the holidays.
Pressley says that sponsoring a child involves more than just a present of two.  “Being an elf is definitely a bigger commitment than say, Angel Tree giving,” expresses Pressley.  “Elves provide for a child’s entire Christmas.”
By visiting their website, www.charlestonelves.org, people can view pictures of the children who are waiting to be “adopted” for Christmas and read about their story and who they are.  
Once you decide on the child (or family) you would like to adopt, the next step is to go shopping, and then attend the gift wrapping party which will be held on Friday, December 13th at Bambu in Mt. Pleasant.
Pressley hopes that Daniel Islander’s will volunteer as elves this holiday season.  Monetary donations are also welcome, as well as companies wanting to adopt entire families.  
It’s always rewarding to spread holiday joy to those who struggle. Pressley remembers once when a parent saw her child’s bags of gifts and noticed a toy that her child had been asking for.  “The joy coming from knowing how happy her child was going to be when opening the present and the relief coming from not having to stress about how she was going to come up with the funds to purchase the gift makes it all worth it!” says Pressley.
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