CHICAGO (CBS) — Now that the holiday season is in full swing, so is one holiday tradition that brings cheer to families in need: the U.S. Post Office’s annual “Operation Letters To Santa” program.
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports Santa’s helpers find some joy in answering the letters from needy children and families.
U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Robin Anderson read from one of the 9,500 letters on display at Chicago’s Main Post Office: “Dear Santa, I’ve been a good girl, I would like some new shoes, and some new clothes, and maybe a board game.”
Anderson said that is typical of the letters the Post Office receives, sent to Santa Claus. They are sorted by gender, and number of children per family, and are available to anyone who wants to grant some Christmas wishes.
It’s a post office tradition the non-profit group “There Really Is A Santa Claus” has fully embraced. Every year, its members read through letters, and their donors buy gifts for the chosen families.
Co-founders Matt Beresh and Jen Jones read some of those letters aloud on Tuesday:
“Dear Santa Claus, my name is Shirley. I am writing this letter for my four grandkids. They are really good little boys. Santa can you please put smiles on their faces? These are little kids that are around shooting and killing every day. They’re afraid to go to school, and afraid to go outside,” Jones read from one letter.
“I am 9 years old. I am a good boy in school and home. I would like to have warm clothes and pajamas for Christmas. Can you help me please?” Beresh read from another.
Postal officials say most of the kids’ letters featured in the program don’t ask for toys or games, just clothes and other essentials.
Ultimately, the Post Office helps the group’s officers personally deliver the gifts in person.
“It’s just a great feeling to help these families,” Beresh said.
Anderson said she hopes that feeling will be contagious.
“People like to give. So, I like to be that liaison between the people who need to the people who want to fulfill that need,” she said.
Unlike the people at “There Really Is A Santa Claus,” members of the public can no longer personally deliver the presents to the children whose letters they answer. All gifts must be shipped through the Postal Service.