My America: Letters To Santa
My America: Letters To Santa
For those who still believe in Santa Claus, or at least the spirit of Santa and in Christmas miracles, here is a story in our My America weekend series to warm your heart.
A post office in Pennsylvania has a special letter drop for kids to send letters to Santa. One of the USPS employees, Melissa Stinsman, volunteers her time to answer those letters. But she came across one that needed a special response.
Melissa Stinsman, a mail carrier for the Bloomsburg Post Office in Pennsylvania, delights in answering children’s letters to Santa Claus, which her station collects in a special mailbox. During the holiday season after her work shift, Stinsman voluntarily spends four hours a night answering the letters from her home, a.k.a., the “North Pole.”
“I usually tell the kids to keep up their grades and to listen to their parents,” Stinsman, 26, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “One asked for a science kit so I told him that one day, he could become a scientist.”
But a letter that Stinsman received on Monday, broke her heart. Among the typical requests — Roblox toys, Legos — were “Food for family” and “Clothing for family.” The 9-year-old child had written, “Dear Santa, I am going to star the top three items I really want.” Both necessities, including a trampoline, were marked.”
Thanks to a team effort by the postal workers, the letter writer’s family was tracked down. Stinsman then went to the house herself, and spoke to the letter writer’s mother.
“She came out and I told her, ‘This is going to sound really strange, but I work at the post office and I would like to help your family this year.’ And we just stood and cried in the rain,” Stinsman said.”
Once word began to spread around the post office, everybody wanted to pitch in. Soon, Melissa had enough donations to give this little boy more than what he asked for.”
“We’re basically a family here. We see everybody here more than our family sometimes, so it’s nice to have everybody just come together and do this good deed, especially this time of the year, just to help a family out,” Bloomsburg Postmaster Dennis Parulis said.”
This kind of Christmas help is not just limited to Bloomsburg, PA. The USPS Operation Santa program is over 100 years old, and while the post office can’t measure the program the way they would “regular” mail, the Christmas magic it spreads with willing givers who volunteer to be Santa Claus for American children is undoubtedly immeasureable.
Now, I happen to live in a house with a couple of very devoted Santa believers, and thanks to their developmental disabilities, this belief will likely continue for a long time. And while we balance out the letters to Santa with excellent Christmas shows (I wholeheartedly recommend “Why Do We Call It Christmas?” and Veggie Tales’ “Saint Nicholas” for kids on the edge of moving from belief in Santa to a fuller understanding of the birth of Christ and the traditions built up around Christmas and Santa Claus), we encourage “secret Santa” gift giving within our local community. Someday, my sons may move beyond their fervent belief in Santa, and stop checking NORAD’s Santa Tracker every Christmas Eve (so they know the absolute latest time they can stay up), and might decide that it isn’t necessary to leave cookies and milk out next to the stockings (this will disappoint their father). But I am hoping that the giving spirit of the season will always remain. And with Christmas elves like Melissa Stinsman, the spirit of Santa Claus is alive and well this Christmas season.