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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Update: Senator from Alaska says program to answer children's letters to Santa is saved

20

November

Mom_santaletters UPDATE: Apparently, North Pole, Alaska, has a little pull with the Postal Service -- thanks to a U.S. Senator from the state. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, sent out a media release saying that she had gotten a commitment from the Postal Service to resume the Santa letter answering program in her state. According to the release, "In a phone call today, Deputy Postmaster General Pat Donahoe told Murkowski that the USPS had reconsidered its position not to allow Alaskan volunteers to answer letters addressed “Dear Santa, North Pole.” Apparently the program will resume as it has in years before but with much tighter security requirements. Now that the program is back, here's hoping that enough elves sign up to make this a bright holiday for kids who want to hear from Santa.

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UPDATE: Hey, never tell one of Santa's helpers that he can't get something done. Apparently the folks who have been answering letters in the tiny Alaska town of North Pole are not going down without a fight. They are trying to save the program that lets volunteers answer the letters that children address to "Santa Claus, North Pole". Chief Elf Gabby Gaborik, told the Associated Press that he met with Postal Service officials to try to work out a compromise to save the program. "This is our identity," he said. "This is North Pole, Alaska."

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Boy, the Grinch is out in full force this year. We already heard that we probably won't be spending as much money on the holidays this year. And Santa wants his H1N1 shot ahead of everyone else before the kids come sit on his knee.

Now, a sexual predator who volunteered to answer letters from Santa has messed up a longstanding tradition of Kris Kringle responding to kids' letters sent to the North Pole, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Since 1954, the Postal Service has sent letters generically addressed to "Santa Claus, North Pole" — as many as 150,000 annually  — to the tiny Alaska town of North Pole. Volunteers there would answer as many letters as they could as if they were signed by the right jolly old elf himself, sending them back with envelopes that featured the North Pole postmark. 

But last year, a postal worker in Maryland recognized an Operation Santa Claus volunteer there as a registered sex offender.So the Postal Service tightened its restrictions on how letters to kids would be answered, prohibiting volunteers in such programs to have access to children's last names and addresses. Instead the service is supposed to redact the addresses and convert any names into codes before turning the letters over to any volunteers.

Those restrictions are just too difficult to deal with because of a lack of resources among Alaska's postal facilities, an agency spokesman said. So any children's Dear Santa letters that wind up in Alaska may end up being recycled instead of answered.

North Pole Mayor Doug Isaacson has called on Alaska’s congressional delegation to intervene, saying the Postal Service is “running roughshod” over the city whose very identity is tied to the holiday. If someone doesn't fix this mess before Christmas, I bet some Postal Service bigwigs will find nothing but coal in their stockings.

-- Sherry Robinson

[AP]

[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:04am]

    

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