Crave America

Project Elf At Celebrates Its 3rd Year

Do you know what Project Elf is? It’s a program that started 3 years ago by Mickey Mikeworth and her program at

Project Elf is a Holiday surprise to families that have recently moved out of the homeless shelter.  We pull together a team of Elves to gather supplies and gifts and then to sneak (with the families permission) into their house on Christmas Eve and make a very special holiday delivery.

CRAVE is a proud partner of this program.

Here are a couple responses received from the recipients of this program.

OMG! When I came home that day all I could do was open my door and right off the top I felt peace and I have not EVER felt like that. I just sat on my new couch and it felt like a hug.

How deep this feels is like nothing like I have experienced before.

I still feel the love in my apartment. I mean, it leaves me in awe. I sat down at my desk and ALL the stuff I needed was here. I wrote you guys a letter to say how thankful I was and to document this crazy event. That’s when this little magnet that the elves put up caught my attention, it is a poem called Imagine a Woman. I read it and I KNEW it was MY message.  The message in that poem  – well- I have never seen a message like that. I cannot read it enough.  I felt like these people who came into my home KNEW ME.

Every little detail has been thought of and it is like being on some fancy design show or living in a hotel.

I sat on that couch in the love and peace and just pondered on how much life had changed for me. How this moment was such a blessing and how hard this life of mine has been.  I felt like my test scores came back and it said “I passed”.  I just sat there and let the tears roll out and let the world fade away for one hot minute.

I grew up in a lot group homes and had a lot of pretty awful stuff happen to me. These last few months had tested every last one of my nerves.  I was on the street and 8 months pregnant with 2 kids living out of my car. I went to an interview to get into the local shelter and I dressed my kids up and went in to see the director. They do not take everyone at the shelter and I got a chance. Before I got help with this apartment every day I was in homeless shelter fearing that I was going to be sent away -because that is how it works. If you step out of line or piss the owner off she will send you packing.

We spent the first night in a room that smelled like urine and it was awful.  No air conditioning and it was a HOT summer and I felt sick. So sick and I started going into labor that night. Not normal labor but sick labor. Something was not right so I let the kids sleep as long as I could and in the morning I sent them with a friend and went to the hospital. I immediately went into an emergency C section and then to my horror my baby was in deep trauma and baby Christian was in a coma for 2 weeks.

Still homeless with a new born we then went a different shelter and that place was filled with roaches. I had hit the bottom of this entire world.  Then things started working in my favor, I found some people that could help me find an apartment and a landlord that would take a chance on me because my credit is awful. I was so thankful to even get a place to live.   But even this place also had its issues. The biggest one the elves totally fixed was the urine smell in my kid’s room.  I would not even let them sleep in there. We were all sleeping in my room. Thank you elves!

I feel like my hope has been restored. I always have to worry about something and look for something, but not right now. I have everything. . I have clarity and not my battery is not on low.

The last time I had a HOME with everything – I mean everything I need – I have NEVER had a whole home. With rugs on the floor, paper in the cupboards, silverware, pots, pans, and you can keep going down the list- NEVER.  Right now I even have everything I need to make cupcakes WITH sprinkles or maybe you would like me to cook you up a ham dinner.  It is crazy round here…

Most people never have a good thing like this happen to them. I would never have imagined this life and where I am right now six months ago. I could not see this life at all. This is one of those big God talks, where you just have to listen and enjoy it.

I love the decorations, that everything is matching, and the set up and I feel like I walked into a hotel suite. Everything was in order and I keep finding gifts here and there. The laundry was amazing!  I have never had all my clothes clean at one time PLUS all my sheets and all my towels.  The kitchen was so impressive even my food looked pretty. The little simple stuff was what impressed me the most. The hallway closet was totally organized, I have been longing for this.

In a group home you never learn about home organizations or putting together a home. So the ability to SEE how a house is set up was totally informative.  I love the two tables, now we can have a table to eat on and a second table to do family games, homework, or anything we want. We can all color together and play play-doough or have a meeting at the table.

I almost forgot about the whole Mall thing! Mike at crave was such an angel and hemade us feel so loved.  Then he gave us passes to the park and I had to check-in on my poverty thinking (would we have enough time to make it worth it? Should I save them for another day?) I knew what Mickey would say and I just let it go. We just went on having a great day. That pass was such a joy and these were the happiest kids in MOA.

I don’t know if you all understand how this entire gift brought back the innocence to my kid’s childhood. Kissi never gives hugs (and I am not a hugger) he came and over and hugged me right away. He keeps hugging me every day. He is so happy. He loves the keyboard and he has wanted to play an instrument.  Now he can now be a child again, and both he and his sister have private space to be in.  He loves to be in his room. It is like someone turned his life into a the right spot and he could wake up and be himself again.

Quan Yin was so excited and she did not know what to touch first.  The fairy wings were a hit she look at me and squealed “I can be a butterfly!” and then added “and wear a flower skirt!” She makes me re-make her bed to look like “The princess way” the way you all set it up. That was a lot of pillows by the way.

I love my bedroom and the kids already drooled on my fancy pillow. I also love the baby crib matching my bedding- that is off the hook crazy. I get in that bed and I feel like I have my “Queen” area and then the kids are the in their own prince and princess spaces. I have not slept in a bed not on a floor that I OWNDED since 2007. And I have to shout out- I LOVED THE LAPTOP!

Sitting in a peaceful space that BELONGS TO ME, I now understand how stressful my life is. How everything I am worried about, being behind, being a bad parent, being late. It’s just gotta go.

This is apartment in finally a space worth staying in. I do not know how you did it, but my place feel so warm and I feel automatic peace when I open the door. I do not want to go anywhere; I want to just stay here. I left the table set up just that way you left it. I am not done looking at how fancy it is.  I wore my new pants and I was able to check myself out in my new mirror and I was like: “ Carmita is back!”

I have always asked God to help me find a better place and this place is a real place. I am not crying because I am sad. I am crying for joy.  What I am feeling is so deep and I keep crying in the shower so the kids don’t worry- but I just feel this so deeply.  Never before have I felt like someone had my back before.  Every little thing was thought of. I mean EVERYTHING.

You were such a blessing. Thank you.
Carmita and family


It’s wonderful!  It was everything I was hoping for.

I am speechless; I have everything I was wishing for and more. I did not think they could revive this space.  It smelled different- like I was living somewhere nicer. I did not think it could be done. I really thought it was impossible for this apartment to look this good.

I will admit I was anxious, I was worried that maybe these strangers would take things away, that my neighbors would get up in my business and steal my stuff, or that I would not like the changes. I was afraid to think big because it would hurt if it was a letdown.  I had to put down my fears and just say “variety is the spice of life” I had to try something new.

I knew the Elf Project was unique but I kept this to myself and did not tell people this was happening. I actually lied to the neighbors and said these people were my mom’s friends.  But I had a good feeling about the people I met I said to myself “I trust these people” and I had a feeling this was some of Gods doing. I rolled with it, uncomfortably.

This has been by far one best times of my life and for sure it was Little Anthony’s best experience.

The last time I had a Christmas that was about Me -in any way, well that has not happened since I was a little kid. Having that feeling that someone was looking out for me -I have not felt that since I was really little, probably my son’s age. That hurts a little to even admit.

Just thinking about that day puts a smile on my face. I can still see everyone waving and saying Merry Christmas, it was so nice and everyone was polite and civil, and treated us like we were somebody that was worth loving and with so much respect.  I got a great vibe from the team and I kept thinking in my head “these people are just so nice”. They were the best people I have met in a long-long time.  It was like being in a TV Movie.   I got this special feeling when I first met Peggy and I even gave her a hug. I must have been delirious, I don’t hug people. Everyone flashed me a for-real smile, not a fake smile.  I felt like I was recognized. I still feel like I was in a dream and I was king.

I have not moved a thing in the apartment.  I don’t want to screw it up and I do not want to move stuff out of place. I did not think the way they pulled it together could be better. The picture of me and my son when you walk is amazing.  When I look at that picture when I open our front door, it feels like we OWN this apartment.

These gifts were not too much and not too little. I like the shelves, and the shoe holders, and the team knew exactly what they were doing. It was just perfect. They were so precise and accurate and they were on point. It brought life into the apartment and everything had a shine and glow to it. I still have room for other stuff.

The blinds were so awful before. I can’t believe how hard these people worked on my house.  I looked at the blinds and before when I rubbed them and it would leave a fingerprint from all the nicotine and now they are actually look NEW. And how they got up to clean the top of the fan is beyond me.  The storage closet is put away all organized and you can see everything. I have been finding little surprises everyday.

The neighbors are asking to see it and I do not want to let them see it. I want to keep it all to myself and little Anthony and I want to just hang out in our special space.  I don’t feel broke in a place this nice and clean.

 I have not left the house except to go to the store since you did it. I did not even move the brownies on the table.  I put a paper towel over them to keep them moist. I just do not want to move a thing.  I like the dog statue protecting the table. Nice touch. The mirrors are gorgeous and I like the way the setting was put together, there is actual life in that gross kitchen.  These lamps look like they came out of some mansion. My mom would love these lamps.

I get compliments on how the apartment looks. Everything I did not have – I have now. I liked the telescope in the living room and to have a clean window to look through. The painted the rooms, and so much more space.  I like that we can be together in every area.

My favorite parts are Anthony’s room. It is so awesome that is my most important area.  He was really shocked and surprised. He just did not know what to say. He loved all the maps, the books, the toys, and the exploration stuff.  Even though we have so much more stuff the room looks way-way bigger. The cubby’s behind the door and the organization was incredible. It was accessible I could find all my medicine and clothes. It made this small place transformed and we can actually breathe in this space. 

Little Anthony went to visit his mom on Christmas and she called and said he wanted to come back early to be in his new room.  His room is like a play land and it is so coordinated. Everyone really took his dreams and made it a reality. It made me proud and glad I took a risk

The Crave experience was hats-off the craziest thing I have done with food in my life. The people were so gracious like I was a movie star. They said “enjoy yourself, get what you want, and don’t hold back” and then they started piling plates on our table. The kids were like off the charts crazy. It was like man vs food experience for us. I brought my son’s mom and our family had never experienced anything like that.  Add Nickelodeon on top of that. We were “in the house”. We took pictures and laughed all day.

This whole experience it makes me feel like somebody and that I was worthy and like I was part of the world and for once in my life -I felt like a human. I am a single father and getting up is not easy when you are physically hurting. Every day I promise him that I would not give up.  I am glad I hung in there.

That bike in the living room! I did not know a bike would fit in this living room. I rode that bike right away up to the store to used the money you left to get a lock for my storage locker.  The bike was adjusted right to my height and I got on it and took right off. It was made for me

I got up Christmas morning and rode that bike. I have not had a bike for at least 15 years since I was a little kid.  I like that it’s MY bike and it’s not stolen. I am not worrying when I see the police when I am on this bike because I am not on a stolen bike and hey- I got it for Christmas- it’s legit. I was like a little kid.  Amazing freedom experience all over again and I feel like a little kid in an adult’s body.  I woke up with so much energy. I rode that bike like I was not sick or out of shape. I treasure that bike it was just perfect and it felt like nothing was left to chance.   

Riding that bike was like God answered some of prayers.

I went to put my coat away in the closet when I got home to find a really nice NEW coat in my closet, and jeans, socks, shirts, and clothes just for me. I have not had NEW clothes from a NEW store in so long. I also cannot believe all the clothes for Little Anthony and they are so nice. I am also looking forward to using my crock pot and I want to use it for News Years Day.  I already cooked the ham.

I loved the greeting of hope that people left. Reading those kind words- that was when I lost it. It all just got very emotional. More than a few tears came that moment and I was glad little Anthony was already in his room.

Having this experience – It makes things a lot easier for me.  It was just something that I could not do.  I look at this apartment all day and I did not know where to begin, there was so much to do and so many things to fix. It is not easy getting up everyday taking a bus 45 minutes each way to get to my son to school and some days that is all I got in me.

Your encouragement made me feel so special and I will rub that off on him.  He is just discovering everything in his room. It is like you people took so much time to find just the right stuff, and NICE stuff. Whoever put together that little box of treasures that he can look at with his magnifying glass was so thoughtful -like we are at our own museum. Now we have all these maps, and we get to see all these things around the world.  I am hoping to get out and see some of it for real.

So, say thanks to the team and let them know that it was everything that little Anthony wanted and it was so much more for me as a person. I needed the push.  It gave me ambition. It was so nice for you all to take the time to assess how much we needed and then took the time to get to know US as people

The space is my style and I did not know I had a style, and it looks classy.

We did a lot in that one day. A day we will never forget. Thank you