You are viewing this article in the AnnArbor.com archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see MLive.com/ann-arbor
Posted on Mon, Dec 24, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Reports from the North Pole: Santa's helpers thoughtfully respond to letters from children

By Kellie Woodhouse

122112_Postal_letters_Santa.JPG

Pam Preston (left) and Angela Lewis (right), postal workers at the Dexter Post office, read thought letters to Santa before replying to them.

Courtney Sacco I AnnArbor.com

In a cluttered florescent lit room toward the back of a postal office in downtown Dexter, Santa's helpers stuff envelopes with letters to children.

122112_Postal_letters_Santa-1.JPG

Pam Preston a postal worker at the Dexter Post office reads a letter sent to Santa be for replying to them.

Courtney Sacco I AnnArbor.com

Letter to Santa 3.jpg

A letter an Ann Arbor child wrote to Santa. The child's name has been removed. Image courtesy of the Main Street Area Association.

Letter to Santa 2.jpg

A letter an Ann Arbor child wrote to Santa. The child's name has been removed. Image courtesy of the Main Street Area Association.

Letter to Santa 1.jpg

A letter an Ann Arbor child wrote to Santa. The child's name has been removed. Image courtesy of the Main Street Area Association.

The letters, neatly printed on stationary lined with Christmas trees, are from Santa himself. They're responses to children in Dexter who wrote to Kris Kringle , promising good behavior and asking for the latest toys.

Some are accompanied with pictures (sock puppet anyone?), others offer life advice ("I know that Christmas is not about presents, it's about giving. Now I want to tell you want I want for Christmas...") and some ask Santa questions ("How are the toys coming?").

Still others ask for gifts with a boldness that only comes from youth and innocence.

I want a "mini MICHIGAN STATE football," asks one child. "I have been good. I want for Christmas is a kitty with orange striped squiggles," writes another.

The Dexter post office received roughly 10 letters to Santa this Christmas- and workers there responded to each one. Most other local post offices, like the ones in Ypsilanti and Saline, send their letters to Detroit, where postal workers there coordinate responses.

"The employees get involved. One of the employees decorated a box," says Sandra Hatton, the Dexter postmaster. "I like to make sure they're going to get responses. This way I know that they're going to get their letter from Santa before Christmas."

For more than a decade, the Main Street Area Association in Ann Arbor has coordinated a letters to Santa program during the holidays. Children can put their letter in a mailbox downtown —with a route directly to the North Pole— and receive responses by Christmastime.

This year Ann Arbor children dropped 223 letters in Santa's mailbox, up from 96 letters last Christmas.

"Some of them are from three-year-olds and it's just scribbles. Some of them draw a map to their house," says Sandra Andrade-Chumney, Santa's helper who is designated with replying to the children. "Some of them are just hilarious because the moms will write verbatim what they say.

One little girl said it would be really funny if Santa hid her brothers present so he didn't think he got any... I don't think I responded to that part of the letter because I didn't want to encourage hiding."

Andrade-Chumney estimates she spent about 15 hours —or nearly two workdays— responding to the letters. She enjoys the process though, she said.

When children ask what Santa's favorite cookie is, she knows exactly how to respond.

"I say snickerdoodles," she says.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for AnnArbor.com. As the North Pole correspondent, she occasionally reports on Santa sightings. Reach her at kelliewoodhouse@annarbor.com or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.

Comments

jns131

Mon, Dec 24, 2012 : 7:30 p.m.

Another Miracle on 34th Street scenario.