CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago post office says 8,000 letters to Santa are in the lobby of the main postal facility on Harrison Street, waiting to be answered in time for Christmas.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports, postal officials say fewer people are turning up this year to answer letters.

Some of the letters ask for iPads, but U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Robin Anderson says most ask for much simpler gifts: clothes, shoes, coats, hats, mittens, or — in some cases — a job.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller Reports

Anderson read from one letter to Santa that read: “I’m a father raising my daughter and caring for my terminally ill wife. Recently, I was laid off my job of six years due to downsizing and, with this economy, it’s been so hard, it’s been almost impossible finding employment.”

The post office sorts out letters to Santa from those who are clearly in need of help during the holidays. Anyone can answer the letters by picking up a few of the letters, choosing an appropriate gift and bringing it back to the post office for shipping.

The deadline for answering letters to Santa is Dec. 20.

The Letters to Santa are on display in the mezzanine of the main post office, 433 West Harrison Street, Chicago, Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., through December 24.

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.

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