Santa’s elves will have no problem finding North Pole-bound letters from Hellertown children thanks to a dazzling new Letters to Santa collection box.
Members of the community gathered outside the Hellertown Post Office Saturday morning to witness the unveiling of the new collection box, which is the result of a year-long, community-wide art collaboration.
The vintage collection box, which began collecting mail at the corner of Northampton and Saucon streets in the borough in 1951, will serve out the rest of its career in the lobby of the Hellertown Post Office. It will stand there every holiday season as part of the post office’s annual Letters to Santa program, in which local children can write to Santa and receive a response in the mail.
“There are a lot of people that helped out with this, for sure,” Hellertown Postmaster Joe DiRusso told the crowd Saturday morning. “I could not have gotten this done without the help of the community.”
DiRusso said he had been planning on repurposing the collection box for the Letters to Santa program ever since he made the decision to remove it from borough streets a few years ago. The first step in the process was removing the layers of paint coating the box, so that students from Saucon Valley High School could redesign it in the theme of its new holiday function.
“(Collection boxes) used to be pink and red in the fifties before they were painted blue, so this box had red on it. It had blue on it. It had green on it. It had a lot of paint on it,” DiRusso said.
The box was sent to Blastco in Quakertown to be sandblasted down to bare metal. From there, budding local mechanic Giuseppe Iatarola of Hellertown’s Lucky’s Auto Body and Giuseppe’s Garage sanded and primed the collection box.
DiRusso said Iatarola did the work free of charge.
“Thank you so much for that. I really appreciate it,” DiRusso said. “Like I said, stuff like this, it gets done by the community.”
The box was then sent to Saucon Valley High School, where art teacher Jason Gordon organized its repainting as an art project for his students.
“I introduced it into all of my classes as far as bringing art into the community, and how it can be beneficial,” Gordon said.
This is not the first time Gordon and his students collaborated with the Hellertown Post Office on a community art exhibit.
In the spring of 2019 Gordon and his students painted colorful murals on post office relay boxes located throughout the borough.
“I’m always looking to bring some community into (the classroom),” Gordon said Saturday morning.
He said the painting of the collection box took roughly a month.
The collection box features murals on its sides depicting Frosty the Snowman and Karen, Charlie Brown and Snoopy, and, of course, Santa Claus himself, who is holding a list signed by all of the children involved in its redesign.
The box is now accepting letters to be delivered to the North Pole. In order to receive a response, DiRusso says letters should be dropped off no later than Thursday, Dec. 23.
Postage stamps are not required for Letters to Santa, however a return address will need to be provided in order to receive a response.
DiRusso also said that Santa will be visiting the post office on the morning of Saturday, Dec. 18, to take pictures and meet the Hellertown community. DiRusso asks that attendees bring an unwrapped gift to donate to the Toys for Tots program.
This is the fourth year that the post office is participating in Toys for Tots.
“The first year we had three (boxes) that we filled up, and now we’re up to seven,” DiRusso said. “So the community is really, once again, pitching in to help out.”