Santa’s little helpers
Woolwich & Wellesley Township's Local Community Newspaper | Elmira, Ontario, Canada
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Santa’s little helpers

Canada Post offices across the country are extremely busy this time of year with many letters and packages being sent out with hopes of being delivered before Christmas Day.
Without a doubt the address that receives the most letters is one farther north than any Canadian city. Currently, more than one million children write to Santa Claus at his ‘North Pole, H0H 0H0’ address. Each and every letter that is received and includes a return address will receive a reply from ol’ Saint Nick.
The return-letter program that began more than 30 years ago is also a very important part of the holiday season for thousands of Canada Post employees who help Santa respond to all the letters he receives. There are more than 9,000 employees, called Postal Elves, who help Santa to ensure that every child’s letter gets an answer in the language in which the letter was written, including Braille.

Each elf spends over 21 hours answering Santa letters over the holiday season. This year the post office will be delivering its 20 millionth Santa letter, with 1.25 million letters being sent out across Canada.

The Elmira post office is expecting to see a few hundred Santa letters come through the door and one of Santa’s postal elves, Kerry Mills, could not be more thrilled.
Mills has been helping Santa for three years and enjoys personally reading every letter he can from the children in the area.

“Santa is a very busy guy and can’t answer all the letters he receives by himself,” said Mills during a quick coffee break from letter writing, adding he has read some really heartwarming letters over the years.

“Last year I had one from a young girl who had just been adopted and she described how happy she was to be with her new family,” he said. “That kind of thing is why it is fun to do this: you open up a letter and you are blown away with what these kids are writing.”
Mills said the first letters usually start coming in just after Thanksgiving but the bulk show up after the Elmira Santa Claus parade, as the post office runs a truck in the parade just to collect the many letters from kids on the side of the street waiting to see Santa.
Right now Mills has quite a stack of letters to answer and promises to get them all done before Christmas arrives.

All the response letters are made personal and signed by Santa and sometimes include a note from the man in red himself.

“I really enjoy doing this and it is great to see that kids are still into Santa Claus. With everything that changes for kids, Santa Claus is still constant – all the commercial stuff that surrounds Christmas the little kids still see it with their hearts.”

Mills has seen letters from kids ranging in age from 3 to 12, and they all ask for some sort of toy. Over the years the specifics have changed with the fads that follow them but for the most part kids still just want a toy to play with on Christmas day.

“I read every letter that comes in and it is quite a delight because you never know what you will find in those envelopes. Some kids have pages of items of what that they want, others have cut out images from magazines and there are some that just ask for one thing – it is really great to see all the variety.”

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