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[KHTS] – Some children write letters to Santa Claus asking for iPads and the latest toys. Other children ask simply for some new shoes, pajamas or gifts for their little brothers and sisters.
The Sierra Coastal District Post Office on Franklin Parkway off Highway 126 typically collects as many as 1,500 letters to Santa from children in the district.
Each year, staff read through the letters and pull out the ones written by children from low-income families.
Members of the community can adopt these letters through the Letters to Santa program during the month of December to fulfill these children’s Christmas wishes.
So far this year, the Post Office has collected 53 letters from children in need, all of which have been adopted. But more will come in as Christmas approaches. Residents can come to the consumer affairs desk from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Dec. 10, 12 and 17 to adopt letters.
Jennifer Clark, a consumer affairs clerk at the Post Office, has been involved with the program for four years. She said that the response is always very positive.
“(People are) so excited to help,” she said. “They want to do as much as they can because they feel like they’ve been blessed…”
Valencia resident Michael Gattuso, who adopted two letters, said that the Letters to Santa program focuses on the true meaning of Christmas, “making a difference in people’s lives.”
Gattuso, who works with a youth empowerment nonprofit in the San Fernando Valley, said that one of his letters was from an unemployed single mother, asking for simple necessities.
Requests in other letters were similar. Adrian, 13, told Santa that he was sad because his mom “doesn’t have a job and she has to spend a lot of time with brother because of his learning disability… We need help. All I want is to have a good Christmas diner (sic).”
Fifteen-year-old Claudia described how her family of six struggled with money when her little brother got sick.
“I want my siblings to have a nice Christmas this year,” she wrote. “I want my family to have a good time during the holidays and not worry about money or the tough times that we all have gone through.”
Claudia was not the only one who asked Santa for presents to give to others.
Bryan, 7, asked that Santa send presents for his sick grandmother and aunt, because he didn’t have the money to buy anything for them himself.
“Please help me with presents (for) my lovely grandma and my Aunt Miriam.”
Post Office staff ask volunteers who adopt the letters to get at least one thing on the child’s wish list.
* Kmart or Target gift cards
* Shoe store gift cards
* Children’s books
* A backpack with school supplies
* Remote control cars
* Learning computers
Volunteers must also wrap and pack the gifts and pay postage on the packages. Gifts can be dropped off at the Post Office from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 12 and 19.
Cindy Barraza, Post Office marketing assistant, said that in previous years, staff have hand-delivered the packages, with the parents’ permission.
Her favorite memory was delivering presents to a little boy, about 10 years old, and his family.
“He was jumping up and down,” she said.
When Barraza went inside the family’s home, she saw how little they had–no Christmas tree, only a folding table to eat on and one couch.
“You don’t realize how many kids don’t have anything,” she said.
For more information about how to be a part of the Letters to Santa program, call the Sierra Coastal District Office at 661-775-6681.