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Nearly 1,000 volunteers make Christmas wishes come true for kids across Bexar County

People of all ages line up to sort and wrap gifts for less fortunate children.

SAN ANTONIO — It takes many hands to make Christmas special for 20,000 children.

Taylor Israel would know.

"I'm surprised to see how many gifts and people there are," Israel said. "It's a lot!"

The 12-year-old and her grandmother are just two of about 900 volunteers curling ribbons and wrapping presents for the Elf Louise Christmas Project.

Louise Locker started the non-profit organization while she was attending Trinity University. She noticed Christmas didn't exist for many kids in the community whose parents couldn't afford gifts. That first year, with the help of a friend, she collected gifts for children in 13 families. 

The project now supplies 40,000 gifts each year. Two gifts are given to each child by Santa himself. 

Dedicated volunteers like Sharon Earley help get the job done. This is Earley's 35th year volunteering, putting her second behind Locker.

She needs a scooter to get around the stacks of donated toys that sit in the warehouse. Even with the scooter, she still put in more than 13,000 steps during Sunday's wrapping event.

"Christmas is coming no matter what," Earley said. "It's wonderful!" 

Executive Director Bill Harrison said they receive so much support from the community that they have to turn away hundreds of volunteers each year. About 5,000 people will volunteer throughout December. 

"We've been doing it so long, we're getting pretty good at it," Harrison said. "This place is alive with the blessings of Christmas!"

Harrison said people can help by making donations to the cause. They need more than $300,000 to purchase all the gifts.

"98 cents of each dollar donated goes directly to the wrapping or the gift itself," Harrison said. 

Carol Muller is in charge of collecting all that cash. Their main fundraiser is happening from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the North Star Mall.

"We do a radiothon and silent auction once a year," Muller said. "You're going to do Christmas shopping anyways! You can come shop with us and know that you're helping out a good cause."

Muller said this is their largest silent auction yet. They have a guitar signed by George Strait, sports memorabilia, Southwest Airlines tickets and more up for grabs.  

You can call 210-979-7700 to make a pledge.