One of the thousands of letters sent to Santa Claus every day during the holiday season. The Post Office opens and sorts through those letters to find children and families in need, and offers those letters to volunteers to buy gifts. (Credit: CBS)
CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Post Office has received close to 20,000 letters in its Operation Santa program according to spokesman Mark Reynolds.
“They are still coming in, even up to the wire, people want to get their wished up to Santa Claus,” said Reynolds.
But the response has been a fraction of that. Reynolds says about 1700 letters have been answered.
“Unfortunately, there are a lot of letters that just aren’t going to get responded to. Unless everybody in Chicago comes down to the main post office tomorrow and help someone’s holiday become a little brighter,” said Reynolds.
The charity There Really is a Santa Claus was started about 10 years ago by Chicago husband and wife team Matt Beresh and Jen Jones. They read letters through Operation Santa.
Depending on how much money they’ve raised, they buy gifts and necessities for as many families as they can. They’ve been making deliveries all week long and say they will provide some holiday cheer to 40 families this year.
Evelyn Gamble is the head of one of those families. She wrote a letter to Santa asking for gifts for her four adult children, two foster kids, a teenaged neighbor and three babies. They all live with her in a four bedroom, Near Southwest Side apartment.
Gamble wrote her letter after struggling the past three years. First, she was diagnosed with cancer. Then, she lost her housekeeping job in 2010. Gamble just got another job this past February, but because of medical bills and years of unemployment, couldn’t afford to buy any gifts this Christmas.
“There really is a Santa Claus,” Gamble said after getting gifts from Beresh and family.
The deadline is Saturday to bring in and pay for shipping on those wish list items. The post office at Harrison and Canal is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.