Archive for Friday, November 20, 2009

Volunteers try to save Santa letter service

November 20, 2009


— A group of volunteer Santa Claus “elves” in Alaska’s frigid interior is determined to save a popular holiday letter service featuring the North Pole’s most beloved icon.

The group is looking to counter a decision by the U.S. Postal Service to discontinue a program begun in 1954 in the small town of North Pole, where volunteers open and respond to thousands of letters addressed to “Santa Claus, North Pole” each year.

Gabby Gaborik, chief elf among several dozen volunteers, said he met with Postal Service officials this week to come up with an alternative.

He’s now working with local government officials to get “101 Santa Claus Lane” as an address for his group, Santa’s Mailbag. That way children will have a specific destination for their letters, allowing volunteers to run their own program and bypass stringent new rules implemented by the Postal Service after security issues arose in a similar program in Maryland last year.

The North Pole program was stymied by a tighter process put in place nationwide by the Postal Service after a postal worker in Maryland recognized a volunteer with the agency’s Operation Santa program as a registered sex offender. The worker intervened before the individual could answer a child’s letter, but the agency viewed the scare as a reason to tighten security.


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