Santa Claus is comin’ to town.
In preparation for Christmas, children across the world have been on their best behavior, keeping an eye out for Rudolph and writing their own letters to the “Big Guy in the Red Suit”.
When I was a little girl, I put a lot of thought into my letter to Santa, composing multiple drafts with my green gel pen until that letter was free of spelling mistakes. I clearly remember placing the envelope in the mailbox, crossing my fingers and hoping my letter would make it in time.
My worries shifted as I grew older. What happened to all those letters I addressed to “North Pole?” What about the kids who would write a letter but never receive any gifts?
USA TODAY recently reported about the U.S. Postal Service’s “Operation Santa,” a national undertaking of matching Santas to letters of needy children. “Operation Santa” marks is 99th anniversary this season and has 75 post offices across the United States participating in its effort.
USA TODAY reports that post offices sort the letters, number them, black-out identification information (besides the child’s first name and age) and then release letters to the public.
People from each community volunteer to be Santas. They are given a letter, buy the requested presents and deliver the gifts to the post office by December 23. After paying the necessary postage, the present is delivered to the children.
“Operation Santa” is a huge undertaking: Nearly 5,000 letters addressed to Santa Claus arrived at the New York City Post Office the day after Thanksgiving and that number is expected to reach two million by Christmas.
Pete Fonta, chief of “Elf Operations” at NYC’s Post Office, told USA TODAY that many letters ask for necessities, like coats and shoes, not toys. Fonta said he expects the amount of these practical requests to increase this year given the difficult state of the economy.
“I think this is going to be the neediest year ever because the economy has not improved,” Fontana said. “We’ve already seen a lot of really sad letters.”
Fontana said he is astounded by the charity “Operation Santa” has received. Last year, a doctor in Los Angeles gifted a necessary ear reconstruction surgery to a seven-year-old girl who was born deaf and with only one ear. A Sleepy’s Mattress Store in New York donated a bed after a letter asked for “a queen-size bed because some of the kids are sleeping on the floor.”
The Society aims to connect Odessa College to businesses and entrepreneurs outside Odessa and this semester marks the second semester of the Society’s existence.
Unlike “Operation Santa,” which requires volunteers to buy gifts, the Society of Business Leaders acknowledges the tight budget of college students by asking them to volunteer their time and in exchange for a $3 donation, write replies as Santa to the letters from children in their community.
The Society announced this project with a news release that asked for letters and explained the details.
Eric Armstrong, the President of OC Society of Business Leaders said the idea for the fundraiser received a great reception from the Society, the school and Odessa community. “We had to come up with [a fundraiser] that would benefit all who became involved, all who donated, all who showed their support,” Armstrong wrote in an email, “who better to use then Santa Claus? This then shifted our focus to children. Who better to bless with a letter than the children who still believe?”
The Odessa College Media Department helped publicize the group’s effort and some West Texas television stations even ran stories about “Letters from Santa.”
The Society plans to use the funds they raised for Odessa College’s club dues, future Society events and as their own donation back to the Odessa community.
Armstrong was pleased with the fundraiser and plans on making it a club tradition.
“This has become a project that we hold dear as the Odessa College Society of Business Leaders and will continue its tradition in bringing Santa Letters to hundreds and hopefully thousands of children every year.”
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