For the second straight year, Elf Louise is looking for a new space to house the thousands of toys and volunteers for her annual gift donation.
Louise Locker still lights up when she talks about brightening a needy child's Christmas morning.
"I just thought it'd be nice to leave my dolls on some little girl's doorstep, and I was gonna somehow find out about a little girl that wanted a doll that wasn't going to get one and I was just going to anonymously leave it on her doorstep," said Locker.
Now, what began as an outreach to 13 families has grown into a citywide effort to help thousands.
"We'll be helping over 19,000 families that literally get the presents delivered to them," said Locker. "I really think that Elf Louise belongs to our whole city. It's way beyond me"
Finding the families and the thousands of volunteers is never a problem, but finding the space to house everything is almost an annual challenge.
After using an old Mervyn's at South Park Mall for two years, the charity moved to another former Mervyn's location at Loop 410 and Marbach last year. Now, they have to find another new home.
"We choose not to own a building because we actually need 50,000 square feet of space, which is the equivalent of a department store," said Locker. "If you were to own a building like that all year long to do the work, the hands-on work that we do for about two months would cost a fortune."
In addition to the size, Locker said they also need the location to have electricity, plenty of parking, and working restrooms for the thousands of volunteers. By relying on a donated workshop, the project is able to give a majority of donated dollars to the people who need it the most.
"The amazing thing is that it's all volunteer and 98 cents out of a dollar goes directly to the toys," said Locker.
They need the space from November 15 to January 15. If you're interested in helping, you can contact Elf Louise at 210-224-1843.