CHICAGO (WBBM) — The post office calls it “mind-boggling”: Even in a less-than-robust economy, letters to Santa from needy families are down significantly this year.

At Chicago’s main post office on Harrison, Santa’s in-box has about 7,600 letters in it. Chicago Post Office Spokesman Mark Reynolds says last year, Santa got 10,000 to 12,000.

“We aren’t getting as many letters as we got even last year, and we still don’t have a good sense why that is,” said Reynolds. “It’s just one of those weird things that’s been happening.”

Reynolds says he doesn’t think it’s because of the post office rules that require anyone who takes a letter to fill out a form, submit an I.D. and bring the gift to the post office for mailing.

Reynolds says that rule has been in place for a few years now.

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He says the letters that have come in are no less touching, like this one that says: “Anything. Please help me put a smile on my kid’s’ face.”

The post office says “Letters to Santa” will be displayed in the mezzanine of the main post office at 433 W. Harrison St., through Tues., Dec. 21 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday and weekends from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Like last year, anyone interested in taking a letter and answering it must sign a release and then bring the gift back to the post office for mailing.