Project Great Elf Wraps Holiday Cheer from Afar

Part of what unites each and every Levy team member is the passion with which we serve our communities. It is a year-round mission to give back to those in need of a lift, and at no time does that shine brighter than the holidays.

In Chicago, the holiday giving typically begins with a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal – we chronicled this year’s socially-distanced meal with Salvation Army – and culminates with one of our biggest holiday operations: Project Great Elf.

For the past 25 years, the project has launched after Thanksgiving, when dozens of Levy team members head to the store in search gifts on the wish list of hundreds of young girls and boys. Many more team members spend shifts wrapping and boxing gifts for delivery to schools around the city. And, for the past several years, Project Great Elf has concluded with a holiday celebration and warm meal, served with love, at Little Village Academy.

Like many other milestones this year, Project Great Elf looks decidedly different. Shopping at a local Target and wrapping at Home Office was conducted in shifts, with fewer team members involved in order to socially distance. And the annual Little Village celebration will not take place in the same way it has for years. However, even in the toughest of times, hundreds of children will still experience the joy of unwrapping the presents they’ve had on their wish lists for months. All told, nearly 800 presents will be delivered to students at four public schools in Chicago neighborhoods. About 50 Levy team members participated in shopping and gift wrapping at one of 12 wrapping stations equipped with 800 feet of gift wrap. Among the most popular gifts were action figures, Roblox, slime kits, and Lego kits.

2020 has been the most challenging of years, and it’s never been more important to share the holiday spirit. We’re thankful for all of our team members who kept Project Great Elf going, and looking forward to keeping the tradition alive for many years to come.