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Post office handles thousands of Christmas letters to Santa

Photo by Nate McCullough

Photo by Nate McCullough

CONYERS -- Even the heart of a child in a letter to Santa Claus is showing signs of the season of giving.

The Citizen recently received a Santa letter written in marker on unlined paper with several misspelled -- but phonetically correct -- words. The child's letter, signed only 'Skylar,' asked for help for "loveing" homes for children and animals in orphanages.

The local post office sent Skylar's letter to the Citizen because the post office did not have a return address for Santa to reply. But the post office wanted Skylar to know "his wishes were heard."

Besides delivering packages, the United States Postal Service has been busy making sure the "impassioned pleas" from children in letters to Santa are being heard, according to Michael Miles, spokesman for the USPS metro Atlanta offices.

Miles said all letters addressed to Santa Claus are sent to an office where workers specifically handle Santa letters. Each year USPS employees volunteer with local charitable organizations and individuals to sort through the letters.

"We make sure that every letter that we get in does get a response," Miles said. "The letters really run the gamut."

With some 10,000 letters to Santa this year, toys are the typical top request. But USPS has seen a shift showing selflessness in the children's requests, similar to little Skylar.

"Like a lot of offices around the country, we've seen a trend you've seen a request for mother and father and asking Santa to help with a job ... often kids are asking not for themselves but for their brothers and sisters and the like," Miles said. "Recently, in the last couple of years or so, we're seeing more of those. I think the state of the economy is driving some of that."

Warren Maloy, 74, known for his lighted Christmas display outside his home on Woodland Road, also has set out a mailbox labeled "Letters to Santa" for the past 10 to 12 years.

"I read all the letters," Maloy said, adding that some are written in Spanish. "One I thought was kind of touching was ... 'Santa, all I want is pogo stick and if you can help my momma get well.'"

Letters can be as long as five pages, according to Maloy.

"Some have a whole list of things. Some with toys I've never heard of," Maloy said.

Miles said USPS sends some letters to Alaska for a North Pole stamp on the envelope and then returns them to the child.

"We're a public service agency. We feel an obligation to respond to our customers when they respond to us," Miles said. "It's the right thing to do to respond to them."