Santa’s helpers remind Iowa children to send their Santa letters early
DES MOINES – Every year, millions of children write letters to Santa. When Santa can’t get to everything on a kid’s wish list, he sometimes forwards requests to helpers at the U.S Post Office through its Operation Santa program.
In 2013, just 17 post offices across the country took part in Operation Santa. One of the receiving areas for these letters is the Des Moines, Iowa, Post Office located on Second Avenue. The stacks of mail that arrive for Santa come from children across the nation.
“This is an important, long standing tradition that we are so proud to carry on,” said Patricia Kuhns Howell, post office volunteer and Santa letter coordinator. “The amount of letters has been decreasing in recent years – just 600 were received last year - and we want children and their parents to know that if they write to Santa, they will receive a response.”
The Postal Service began receiving letters addressed to Santa Claus more than 100 years ago. In 1912, Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local postmasters to let employees and citizens respond to these letters. That program later became known as Operation Santa. Today, a dedicated group of Santa’s helpers at the Des Moines Post Office are carrying on the tradition of responding to each child’s letter.
“Many letters we receive peek into the struggles of families just trying to keep their heads above water. Yet, many of those still ask for simple things and for gifts for people other than themselves,” said Kuhns Howell. “We hope people will remember that although there are a lot of ways to connect with Santa, nothing can replace the impact of a personalized, hand written letter.”
Children who want to send a letter to Santa this year should keep these tips in mind:
1. Mail your letter early. Santa’s helpers will begin responding to letters this year on Dec. 13. Letters should be in the mail two to three days before that date.
2. You don’t need a postage stamp to send a Santa letter. Children or parents can simply address their letter to the attention of one of the following: Santa Claus or The North Pole, c/o Des Moines, IA Post Office, 1165 Second Ave. Drop the letter in the nearest mailbox or at your local post office.
3. If you want a response, provide your address. Each year, Santa’s helpers are unable to respond to hundreds of letters because there is no address. Children should provide their first name — last name is not required — and complete address including the city, state and ZIP code.
4. Don’t send money or candy. Santa won’t need money or candy and bulky items could damage the post office machines and are messy if they get crushed.