By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,665)
Santa’s Mailroom was a hectic place today as his Elves worked to open hundreds of letters from children, read them and handwrite envelopes with a response enclosed to the child’s request. Most of the year the Mailroom serves as the office for Portland Postmaster John Godlewski on Cumberland Avenue. But this one day a year, it becomes a beehive of activity. Letters received after today will be forwarded on to Santa at the North Pole for his other Elves to take care of.
Santa starts receiving Letters to Santa right after Thanksgiving. They are responded to by Post Office employees who volunteer to do the work on their own time at home. Last year, Portland received about 1,000 letters and expects to receive about the same number this year. Today marks the last day of this year’s program. The Letters to Santa program started in New York City in 1912. Portland has participated for many years, although no one knows exactly how many.
Elves read some of the letters aloud to each other at times. One letter writer called for food for food pantries and toys for Maine Medical Center. Another wrote that he had been good all year; feeding his cat and cleaning his room. What he really wanted was help for a sick friend. A third letter writer said he’d been “naughty” and didn’t deserve any gifts. “Put me on the naughty list,” he wrote Santa.
“We’ve been able to maintain our annual Letters to Santa program thanks to an extraordinary volunteer effort by current and retired postal employees,” said Postmaster John Godlewski. “It’s become a challenge to support the program due to the lack of resources that have been available in past years,” said Postal Service spokesman Tom Rizzo.