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Charleston native spreads holiday cheer across the world using social media

Abby Rush's group 'Elf Yourself' has grown to 2,000 members posting about good deeds. (WCHS/WVAH)

West Virginia native Abby Rush admits last year she was running low on holiday spirit. News and politics had her feeling down.

"After the election and the negativity in the news I felt like people were just down on each other," Rush said.

To lift her spirits she decided to start giving instead of asking for something for Christmas. Rush noticed a woman in a store looking at the Elf on the Shelf toys. The two struck up a conversation about the popular trend.

"I told her she should do it for her grandkids because it is so much fun," Rush said. "She explained her grandkids used to have it, but they lost theirs in a flood. She just put it back on the shelf, and I got the feeling that it was too expensive for her."

Without a second thought Rush bought the Elf on the Shelf and gave it to the woman.

"The cashier ran out into the mall to track her down and give it to her. When the cashier came back she was crying. She said the woman was so grateful she started to cry in the middle of the mall. So then I started crying."

The simple act of kindness inspired her to keep it going. Rush started a Facebook group called 'Elf Yourself.' The idea was to start posting about the good deeds people do in their community.

"I don't want people to think it is bragging," Rush said. "It is inspiring others to pay it forward. It not only makes people feel good, but it gives people ideas."

The group started with a few friends and family members. Now, 'Elf Yourself' is approaching 2,000 members. The people posting are from all over the world. Second-grade teacher at Belle Elementary, Jennifer Knauff said she hopes the posts and more importantly, the good deeds continue throughout the year.

"I just see the need for cheer in general," Knauff said. "I have students who need that in their life. The other day it inspired me to pay for someone's order behind me in a drive-thru. I had never done that before."

'Elf Yourself' is a private group, but admins are open to accepting new members.

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