(Crystal A. Proxmire, 12/17/2011)
A couple of Santa’s elves visited Roosevelt Primary on Friday to spread holiday cheer and surprise Mrs. Keefe’s kindergarten class. The elves brought gifts for the little boys and girls, and told stories of the North Pole.
Menachem Kniespeck, President & CEO of Operation Kid Equip has been spreading holiday cheer and surprising students in the area, while dressed as a holiday elf. Elf Crumpet, as the kids know him, was joined by Elf Tiffany for the visit to Roosevelt. Operation Kid Equip has a roster of over 145 volunteers who donate time throughout the year. It takes 7,500 volunteer hours a year to make the program a success.
Operation Kid Equip started in Kniespeck’s living room six years ago to help meet the under-served and overlooked needs of kids in the community. They primarily focus on providing school day supplies like school supplies, books, hygiene items, clothing and snacks. The presents given on the Elf Tour include games, art supplies, school supplies and craft kits.
“So far this year we have surprised 11 classrooms and an entire school. Two other teachers were also chosen to go on a shopping spree at fiveBelow to handpick gifts for each student in their class. We have other surprises in store through next Wednesday,” Kniespeck said. “This year’s Elf Tour was sponsored by The MEEMIC Foundation and many other generous donors, and donations on the site or via mail are most welcome. Many people don’t think of the need for school supplies at the start of the second semester, but our kids need them.”
The Elf Tour will reach 1,000 metro Detroit students this year.
Kniespeck gets joy from giving the students gifts, especially ones they can learn from. “One cute little girl wanted to be sure I watched her tie her own shoes so I could report it back to Santa,” he said. He also recalled another touching moment. “During one of the Elf Tour visits, a girl said she didn’t like her gift and was going to throw it out when she got home. Yesterday, an apology was delivered by her teacher. The top quarter was addressed to the elves, the bottom 3/4 to Santa. The cutest line from Santa’s portion: “I am so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so Sorry!!!!”
The elves had a surprise that day as well. Roosevelt Primary was placed on lockdown at the time of their visit, because someone in the neighborhood had attempted to commit a break-in at a nearby home. The elves were on lockdown as well, and could not leave until the area was deemed same by police and school officials.
“We were impressed with the calm and orderly execution of the school’s lockdown plan. There was no panic and staff were communicating regularly with the district, staff, students and parents. The staff did an excellent job keeping us safe, but most importantly, making everyone feel safe.
In the end, we were able to surprise the excited class with gifts and school supplies.”
To learn more about Operation Kid Equip, including how to donate to the program, go to http://operationkidequip.org/.