Each year, children from all over the world mail letters to the North Pole in hopes of communicating their Christmas list with Santa himself. And each year the North Pole responds to billions of those letters.
Saucon Source was lucky enough to be joined via a North Pole Zoom call by someone who is very active in the local Letters to Santa program.
Kathy is a North Pole secretary, and for the past few years she has been the Hellertown Post Office’s official North Pole contact for all matters related to its Letters to Santa program. We spoke to Kathy about writing letters to children (and adults) in the Hellertown area, the importance of the Letters to Santa program, how COVID is affecting the program and much more.
How long have you been involved with the Letters to Santa program in the Hellertown area?
This will be my fourth year working with the Hellertown Post Office. That office is wonderful. Sandy (Tierney) and Joe (DiRusso) do a great job with the program.
Is this year any different due to the COVID pandemic?
Well, the North Pole is doing lots of things differently this year because of the virus. When it comes to the Letters to Santa program, I am taking certain precautions. The letters get sprayed in the bag. They don’t get taken out right away. My card table has become my COVID-letter staging area (laughs). It’s completely covered in letters. And oh my goodness! This year the children did not wait until Thanksgiving. We got so many letters before. I think everyone is ready for Christmas this year. I think just in the Hellertown office we’ve already gotten 39 letters, and it’s only Dec. 7. One little girl wanted a new mask. Santa has been doing this a long time. Never has he had a little child ask him for a mask, but that is where we are right now. We’ve been telling the children this year to never lose hope. Things will get better.
How many letters does Santa normally receive from Hellertown?
My first year we had 145 from Hellertown. Then we had 99, then 90. I’m hoping to hit 100 again this year.
Why does Santa’s ‘main office’ at the North Pole put so much time and effort into the Letters to Santa program?
Well we think the letters are as important as making and delivering the toys. This is very much a part of our job up until Christmas Day. And it’s a labor of love! I got a letter from someone last year. They had a six-month-old baby and they wanted a letter to put away in the child’s memory book. We are so honored to be able to do that. It gives me such joy. It’s a little thing to answer a letter to Santa, but it is very important.
Who actually answers the letters the North Pole receives?
Santa answers as much as he can! He likes to sign his as “your friend Santa Claus.” I will occasionally answer a few, as will Mrs. Claus; especially the letters that we receive closer to Christmas Day.
What do the children receive when they get their letter back?
We write our letters on special North Pole cardstock. I like to include a candy cane in the letters I send back. No little child wants a peppermint candy cane (laughs). They all want cool ones like Jolly Rancher or Jelly Belly. You know, a flavored one, like cherry. Anything but peppermint. They’ll get a North Pole sticker, too. And everyone receives a unique letter. If we get a family of three children, everyone gets a different letter. They don’t even get the same candy cane.
Does everyone get what they ask for?
(Laughs) We do our best. One year I got a letter from a farmer in Coopersburg. This farmer wanted a fence tall enough that deer can’t jump over it, seed that works and possibly a new tractor. I told him that he is obviously a hard-working man who knows exactly what he wants. I told him I would do my best.
So you got a letter from a grown man?
Oh yes! That still happens. And from older children, too. No one is too old to write to Santa. The older children will ask for makeup, or bicycles. One boy in Hellertown asked for a matching helmet and knee pads for riding his bike.
What are some other common things children are asking for?
Well, Mrs. Claus and I don’t watch cable. We think Santa does sometimes. So I don’t really know what some of the new characters, or popular toys and games are. The elves help with that. They’re all over Twitter and TikTok and whatever else is big (laughs). I will say though, children still ask for Barbies, and Mickey Mouse toys. I’m very surprised that after all these years, baby dolls and Mickey Mouse have held true. They like monster trucks, Transformers… One child wanted Wolverine claws. Superhero stuff is always popular.
What kinds of things do you write to the people who send letters to Santa?
I believe in positive reinforcement, as does Santa. We tell the children we will do our best, and we tell them to just do their best. Sometimes Santa will tell them that if they look at their fingerprint they’ll see how special they are. No one else in the world has fingerprints like you. That’s how special you are. Even if the younger children just print well, or color within the lines, or spell their name correctly (laughs). We always find something positive to say.
How does the Hellertown community compare to other post offices you work with?
I love Hellertown. It is a small borough of people who try and work together and pull together, and that shines brightly. And the post office is wonderful. Everyone chips in. It’s a real team effort, whether it’s making copies or whatever. They’ll work through their lunch break. They’ll never let me be without what I need in order to get the cards back to the children. I tell them I couldn’t do it without them. And the mail carriers do their part! Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night will deter them from their appointed rounds.
When is the deadline for people to have their letters answered?
Santa will answer up until a few days before Christmas. But even after then, Mrs. Claus, or I, or an elf helper will respond. I’ve been answering letters on Christmas Eve in the past. But we like to get the letters back in the mail as soon as we can, so that they can get back to the children as soon as possible. Every day the North Pole Express leaves with millions of letters. It returns our letters to post offices all around the world. The Hellertown post office is great, because they so lovingly deliver our letters for free!
Letters to Santa must be accompanied by a return address in order to receive a reply. They may dropped off in a letter box inside the Hellertown Post Office’s lobby.
For questions about Letters to Santa, please contact the Hellertown Post Office.