BANGOR, Maine — The smiles that spread across a person’s face when they are given something out of the blue — something they didn’t ask for — is the reward.
“It’s amazing,” a Bangor Elf said on Saturday while out spreading Christmas cheer.
The Bangor Elves, a group of anonymous do-gooders who described their activities on Saturday as a “Day of Good Deeds,” doled out around $5,000 in cash, gift cards and other items. The donations were collected from “Elf Canisters” that have been at 13 different downtown businesses for the last few weeks.
“We do good deeds for everyone,” said the Head Elf. “We’re trying to encourage everyone to do good deeds on their own.”
The Elves started at Geaghan’s Pub, where waitress Samantha Grenier of Bangor served them breakfast. The group of 10 paid their individual bills and then called Grenier over to the table and gave her a small stuffed elf, dressed in green and red and holding a handmade card and a crisp $50 bill.
“Oh my God, it’s so cute,” she said as she accepted the doll, a huge smile spreading across her face.
“It says you’ve been elved,” Grenier said, reading the card. “This is like the best gift ever.”
She said she was working her last shift at Geaghan’s before heading south to a family holiday gathering in New Jersey, and added the money will come in handy.
After breakfast, the group split into two. One set up a free coffee stand in West Market Square and the other group set up a holiday giving tree outside of Metropolitan Soul downtown. The tree is decorated with folded $1 ornaments that those who need can take, the Head Elf said.
“Last year we expected it to be gone in about two hours,” she said of the money ornaments. “We came back and there was more on it. We were all overwhelmed by that.”
“The elves were elved,” another Elf said.
Last year’s tree “stayed out for about three weeks,” the Head Elf said with obvious pride in her voice.
The reason: Each person who put money on the holiday giving tree did so unselfishly and themselves became a do-gooder, just like the Bangor Elves, she said.
After the tree was set up, a couple Elves gave gift cards to people walking downtown. Then they loaded into a van donated for the day by Down East Toyota, and went to the Phillip-Strickland House. A resident of the home is getting a Bangor Elves’ version of the “12 Days of Christmas.”
“She’s getting a present every day for the 12 days,” the Head Elf said. The gift bag “has a poem that explains why she’s not getting three French hens.”
Saturday was day four of 12, she said.
Three groups of Elves were out on Saturday. One group spent time splitting wood for a veteran, others shopped for a family with five children, and the list goes on and on.
The Head Elf’s group went to a laundromat and handed out rolls of quarters and Tim Horton gift cards, then went to Family Dollar on State Street.
Sylvia Thibeault of Howland was looking at T-shirts and was Elfed.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said. “What a great idea.”
Tina Bouchard of Eagle Lake also was Elfed and responded with a huge smile.
“That was so sweet,” she said. “It totally surprised me.”