They expect the letters to Santa.
So far this season, about 1,000 pleas to St. Nick have arrived in the Suncoast District of the U.S. Postal Service, which serves more than 4 million addresses from Brooksville to Fort Myers.
But this year, postal workers had to add a new bin: letters to God, and other folks up there.
"In the 10 years I've been doing this, I've seen maybe two or three letters addressed to heaven," spokesman Gary Sawtelle said. "This year, we've already had more than 30."
They come addressed to "Highest Court of Heaven, Gold Street #1" or "1 Heaven Place." Most carry first-class stamps.
Some are hilarious: "Lord, how was your day?"
But mostly they're the kind of thing you'd hear if you could listen to people's prayers.
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Last week, postal volunteers shared some of the letters — minus names and addresses of the writers.
Some came on cards with glittery flowers. One had a grumpy Care Bear, colored with a gray crayon. Another had 14 smiley faces. Someone sent an entire page laced with little pencil loops. Another envelope included a smashed Tootsie Roll. One just had a blank piece of white paper, folded eight times.
There were thank you notes: "God, thank you for coming into my life — and giving me Zayna."
And head-scratchers: "Dear God, I know you had a hard time understanding me. Watch that movie 'Secretariat' . . . the lady who made that possible is just like me."
Even a love letter to Jesus: "I understand I'm your chosen lady. I love you completely First Dude."
Most of the letters were requests: "Lord, I know you are preparing a husband for me one day."
And several of the letters mailed to heaven were not addressed to God.
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"Dear Uncle Jerod," said child-like letters printed in red Magic Marker. Blue streaks of water flowed under a purple pier. "I wish we could of went fishing. We really miss you. Love, Seth."
"Dear Mom," said a note tucked into a birthday card. "You've been gone six years now. I know you're looking down at us. . . . I'm sorry for all the times I wasn't a good son. I love you. I wish I could tell you face to face. Love, Me."
The hardest letters to read were sent to grandmothers. "Dear Nana," said a card written in green ink. The front showed a small girl peering out a window. "I miss making you smile. Are you smiling somewhere?"
The writing continues onto the back. "I am trying to accept who I am without you. But most of the time I miss you so much I don't know which one of us is gone. . . . Yours forever, Chelsea."
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The God letters came from grown-ups with perfect penmanship and kids who hadn't learned to spell.
Most of the writers were hurting. Many didn't seem to know where else to turn.
Most of the things they asked for, only God could give.
"Dear God, I think my heart is okay for know. But it still herts," wrote a girl named Alexy, who dots the letter i with a bubble. "Don't tell my nana but sometimes i use her oxygen. God why do my mom and dad fight? My mom lives 5 states away and they still fight. My heart herts right know."
"Dear God," began another girl. "Life is good here since you have made the World. There were some bad things like plane crashes, robberies, people killing 1 another, and child abuse. God those things scare me. I mean what if those things would happen to me? Thank you God … Love, Abby."
A boy named Adam offered a heavenly update. "Dear God, I'm still really sick. I feel terrible. And my throat hurts … so I have to take this medicine that tastes so GROSS. But it feels so good."
Perhaps the most poignant letter was from a mother in Tampa. Written on notebook paper, addressed to "God the Lord above Heaven," it was sent off with a stamp of cartoon character Lisa Simpson.
"Dear God," it begins. "Hi, how are you doing? I hope when you receive this letter you're doing good. … Well God the reason why I writing you this letter is to ask for your help in three things.
"One can you please help omi to get out of jail as soon as possible so he can come home and be with the family. … Forgive him he deserves a chance please god I know he can do right.
"Two can you help me loose weight give me the energy to do so.
"And three can you help me with my financial so I can pay back everyone I owe. … In the name of Jesus Christ, I really want omi to come home and I really want to lose weight and pay all my taxes back. Please help me thank you."
The single page is signed with three X's and three O's, "Love always." P.S.: "Protect my kids from all evil. Do not let no evil enter my home."
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Postal workers respond to every letter to Santa on the big guy's behalf.
So, what about the God letters?
"We're not going to reply," Sawtelle said. "How can we?"
He paused, placed both hands on the pile. "I'm not a religious person," he said. "But I have to believe that you don't need the Postal Service for these. The minute you put your pen to paper, and address a letter to God, it gets delivered."
Lane DeGregory can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8825.