Postal Service's Letter to Santa program lives on
(Spoiler alert: This report contains some details potentially unsuitable for the young and old that believe in Santa.)
Have no fear, kids: The Postal Service's Letters to Santa program lives on ... just not at the post office in North Pole, Alaska.
Postal officials disputed an Associated Press report Thursday that said the entire program was bust. The program will continue at participating post offices, so long as they abide by strict guidelines designed to protect young children.
"We're not Grinches," insisted Postal spokeswoman Sue Brennan.
The Postal Service's Letters to Santa program began in New York City in 1912, in an effort to respond to letters from needy children seeking some holiday cheer. (It is separate from several other, privately operated letter programs.)
Volunteers to assist the jolly old elf in answering his mail -- many of whom are postal employees -- adopt a letter, write a response and often send the child the gift they requested.
Postal officials tweaked the guidelines last year after an observant postal employee in Maryland noticed that a registered sex offender had volunteered to write a response.
The agency now prohibits distribution of a child's last name and address, Brennan said. Volunteers pick up a letter at the local post office, write a response and then return to the post office to mail it. Postal employees then match the responses with the correct address.
The new rules are labor-intensive, meaning some post offices that suffered cutbacks -- like the one in North Pole, Alaska -- will not participate this year, Brennan said. No word on other sites not participating. Your best bet is to call and find out.
Postmaster General John E. Potter officially launches this year's Letters to Santa program on Dec. 1 in New York.
Read the potentially sensitive Santa news after the jump.
Kids who send letters to Santa with an envelope simply marked "North Pole" most likely get a response from a local volunteer and not someone in Alaska, Brennan said. Letters addressed to Santa that contain the specific address and Zip code of the North Pole post office likely received a response from Alaska.
Perhaps the worst news of all: Most letters sent to Santa get ignored and are eventually shredded, Brennan said. (The Eye's heart sank when he heard this, recalling all of his letters to St. Nick.)
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| November 19, 2009; 3:56 PM ET
Categories: Agencies and Departments
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