Letters to Santa volume is down

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The United States Postal Service estimates that it will handle more than 750,000 letters to Santa this year.

Not even Mr. Claus himself could answer all that mail, so each year he drafts a few helper elves from local post offices.

The Demopolis Post Office doesn’t get as many letters to Santa as they used to, but the ones they do get now aren’t ignored. In fact, these letters have become a highly anticipated part of the USPS workers’ holiday.

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“We used to get a lot of letters,” said Demopolis Postmaster Buddy Pickel. “Now it’s dwindled to a few and the ones we do get are from younger and younger age groups.”

Those Santa letters that are dropped in the access are usually caught, set aside and some “kind hearted folks who work here answer the letters,” Pickel said.

Many of these letters don’t have return addresses, but the postal workers make every effort to discover how to contact these youngsters with a reply from Santa.

Asked how the post office workers reply to toy requests, Pickel smiled and said, “You pick and choose your words very carefully.” Then he added, “When it comes to children we sure do all we can.”

Pickle said the seasonal wish lists become a favorite part of the employees’ holiday.

This year, the post office got about 20 letters addressed to the North Pole. The workers opened each one and shared them among themselves. Pickel said these letters are little treasures to the personnel.

“It helps bring the Christmas season to us,” Pickel said. “It’s our busy time of year. Getting through the holidays is pretty tough at a post office. Most people are off on Christmas Eve, but we’re here and then we’re right back the day after Christmas.”