The Teesside area was full of elvish mischief on Friday 4th December as a group of university students took to the town for the Alzheimer’s Society’s Elf Day festivities.
Second year Occupational Therapy students from Teesside University joined forces to raise money for the dementia charity and spread Christmas cheer. With the aim of bringing smiles to faces, the elves challenged themselves to take the funniest ‘elfies’ they could and enjoyed wrecking playful havoc amongst local residents!
2020 has been a tough year
Student Course Representative Cheryle Buckle explained, ‘We are a really close cohort and 2020 has been a tough year for everyone. Learning at home has been very isolating for us but also a lot of charities have really struggled to raise funds this year too. We love doing good deeds anyway. And many of us have seen first hand the positive effect that the Alzheimer’s Society has on lives, either through dementia clients we’ve worked with or from experiences with family and friends. So, when I read about the charity’s planned Elf Day, I thought it would be brilliant to get involved.’
Once they had the approval of the university, the nearly 50-strong year-group set to work making and ordering elf costumes and roping their tutors into the fun too. No area was off limits for the event – from supermarkets to hair salons, the school run and local shopping centres, the elves travelled far and wide to spread their Christmas spirit.
And, to keep things covid-secure, the group chose to ask for all donations via a JustGiving website rather than collecting in buckets on the street. ‘People have been so generous; we’re absolutely thrilled with the amount we have managed to raise.’
There’s something about those Elf Costumes
Speaking with Cheryle at the end of a long day elfing about, that Christmas Spirit certainly came shining through. She was full of stories of the adventures of her partners-in-crime and delighted by the response they had received. ‘It’s been amazing; such a community affair. We’ve had support from local businesses, and through all the generations. Elderly residents were in their element joking around with us and the children were completely fascinated. We even bumped into a Teesvalley Mayoral candidate who couldn’t resist snapping a quick elfie!’
‘There’s something about those elf costumes,’ said Cheryle, ‘Many of us started the day quite shy and apprehensive but, we really flourished as time went on. We haven’t laughed that much in ages. It’s been absolutely fantastic and really lifted morale amongst the students. And, when you’re raising money for charity, it just comes naturally to give it your all and feels so rewarding.’
Going wild in the aisles
Morrisons Hartlepool didn’t know what hit them when the elves appeared. ‘We went wild in the aisles and the staff were so supportive.’
From attempted Christmas tree ‘robberies’ to a conveyor belt takeover, the visitors certainly stopped a few Friday shoppers in their tracks. One elf even managed to recharge their magic levels in the freezer with the frozen chips!
Sharing the love
The group also paid visits and offered support to the new local community hub, Poolie Time Exchange, as well as the latest local celebrity – the giant Hartlepool fundraising inflatable Grinch!
And even those isolating at home were able to join in the fun. ‘We sent home activities and quizzes for students to enjoy with their families too. Some people played games, some baked and one family were even planning an elf sleepover!’
Future Elf Adventures
We asked if this was a one-off. ‘Oh no, it’s been so brilliant we will definitely have to do something again next year. Who knows what mischief we’ll get up to then!’ We left Cheryle to take her outfit for one last spin as she went out to walk the dogs, ‘I don’t want to take it off!’
We reckon everyone should embrace their inner elf now and again, and it sounds like this wonderful bunch have really done it with style!
Click here to donate to the Alzheimer’s Society and support the elves of Teeside University. And don’t forget to check out our other stories of heart-warming Acts of Christmas Kindness in the community.