Post Office Begins ‘Letters To Santa’ Program

CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s a good time to get in the Christmas spirit, as the U.S. Postal Service has begun its annual “Letters To Santa” campaign.

If you want to give a child in need a gift for the holidays, you can go to the Main Chicago Post Office at 433 W. Harrison St. and read some letters from needy kids.

As CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports, Santa Claus might be from the North Pole, but he has an army of helpers in Chicago.

The letters pour in this time of year. Letters addressed to Santa Claus, but answered by people like Dreka Hall.

One letter in particular touched her.

“Yeah it did. I mean, for a kid to say they weren’t asking for anything but the essentials like a coat and shoes and gloves and then he asked for a bible,” Hall said.

The Chicago Post office received 6,000 letters like that one last year from girls, boys; families with two, three, up to seven kids.

Only half were answered. It’s not a pursuit for the overly skeptical.

“Sometimes people are scamming, sometimes not. You start reading them, and you can just feel, this is real,” said Reggie Taylor, a new Secret Santa.

Taylor grabbed three Santa letters on Wednesday.

“A lot of kids wanted simple things. I mean, like coats and gloves and shoes and scarves and I’m like, ‘Well, I can do that.’” Taylor said.

Asked what people were looking for as they sifted through the bins of letters, one Secret Santa said, “Sincerity. Sincerity and who really needs help.”

She also said she’ll miss delivering gifts in person this year, but the rules have changed.

“Bring it back to the post office and pay the postage and we will mail it for them,” said Chicago District spokesperson Mark Reynolds. “That way we protect the security and privacy of people writing to Santa.”

Some secret Santas said they’ll just imagine the smiling faces Christmas morning.

“It’ll be cute, it’ll be cute. You wish you could see it, but you’re not doing it for the thanks. You’re just doing it to help them,” said Isabella Chiovari.

Chiovari took five letters.

You can pick up Santa letters at three post office locations in Chicago through Dec. 21:

Chicago Main Post Office, 433 W. Harrison St
Northtown Post Office, 3401 W. Devon
Evergreen Park Post Office, 9359 S. Kedzie Ave., Evergreen Park

  • C. Williams

    It’s disappointing that the post office changed their procedure. My family has participated in this program for at least 15 years. Every year we went to the post office, picked letters, shopped, wrapped and delivered gifts on Christmas Eve as a familly. We all cried last year when we realized the post office put an to our holiday tradition. It’s too bad that they are not willing to create other measures of security (i.e. screening potential gifters) for the thousands of people who enjoyed driving all over the city delivering gifts instead of paying to mail them. If anyone knows of programs that allow you to deliver gifts, please respond. My family has decided to spend time at a shelter on Christmas Eve, if our ‘sleigh’ doesn’t have a reason to ride this year. Very sad that it came to this USPS.

    • Dusty

      I think you’re missing the point. Do you know how much in TAX DOLLARS it would cost for the post office/government to screen every person who wanted to give a gift? And even then, there are tons of bad people who would pass a background check.
      I think the point of this program is to ensure that some of the less fortunate people of Chicago get to have a really nice Christmas – not so that you get to feel good by personally delivering them? They wrote to Santa anyway. They don’t know these strangers coming to deliver their gifts. They appreciate it all the same. But this adds security and hope for the kids that Santa’s real.
      It’s great you’ve participated for so long but consider continuing for the sake of the kids and not because you feel slighted.

      • C. Williams

        Thanks for the encouragement to continue participating. Actually, I think you missed the point. So allow me to explain more clearly. I along with many other individuals and companies cannot afford to pay the exorbitant shipping prices. Because I feel so bad reading the letters, my yearly pledge to buy for one or two children usually turns into 7-9. I’ve purchased coats, complete bedding/linen sets and the like. Can you imagine what it would cost to ship those items times nine? I am a working class person who does this out of my love for Chicago’s most vulnerable; and my family commonly decides to forego out gifts to each other to buy for Secret Santa families. Although it is a tradition to spend Christmas Eve and Day delivering gifts, the main reason we have ceased to participate is the new costs involved. Why go down to Harrison street and try to pick out letters of small things that we can afford to ship? That would be pure torture, especially knowing, from experience that people need coats and clothes and other needs that are too expensive for me to afford to ship. I may spend $100 on a child and then have to spend $50 shipping (you must consider that we wrap presents, so a sweater now has to be shipped in a bulky gift box). Fortunately, I have found another program that is similar to the post office’s, and will donate my time to a shelter on Christmas along with other donations. By the way, all gifts were delivered under the cover of night when the children were asleep. We made sure to ask parents for a time when children were sleeping or away from home, so they would not have any idea that we bought the gifts. They were also labeled “from Santa,” especially for the children who were young enough to still believe in him. So it really wasn’t about us. Hopefully, you will continue or start lending your good heart to the program. Merry Christmas!

    • Demetris

      Mr./Mrs. Williams thank you for everything you have done and probably will do for some one who was less fortunate. “God bless you and your family for given to others so unselfishly.” I hope you continue doing the lords works where ever he leads you. THANK YOU Williams family.

  • Mark Reynolds, U.S. Postal Service

    The story as posted above contains one inaccuracy: letters to Santa cannot be picked up at the Evergreen Park and Northtown locations, only at the Main Post Office downtown. People responding to letters may mail the gifts at those locations, beginning Dec. 10 – they’ll receive complete information when they come downtown to get a letter.

    Mark Reynolds
    U.S. Postal Service, Chicago District

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