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USPS Kills Letters To Santa In Alaska

From a joyous Associated Press:

Santa Claus, also known as Patrick Farmer, at Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska Wednesday Nov. 18, 2009, holds letters from children sent this year that the U.S. Postal Service says they will no longer deliver. Citing privacy concerns, postal officials say that generically addressed letters to ‘Santa Claus, North Pole’ will no longer be forwarded to volunteers in the Alaska town as has been done for years.

Popular Santa letter program ends in Alaska

By Rachel D’oro, Associated Press Writer

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Starry-eyed children writing letters to the jolly man at the North Pole this holiday season likely won’t get a response from Santa Claus or his helpers.

The U.S. Postal Service is dropping a popular national program begun in 1954 in the small Alaska town of North Pole, where volunteers open and respond to thousands of letters addressed to Santa each year. Replies come with North Pole postmarks.

Last year, a postal worker in Maryland recognized an Operation Santa volunteer there as a registered sex offender. The postal worker interceded before the individual could answer a child’s letter, but the Postal Service viewed the episode as a big enough scare to tighten rules in such programs nationwide.

People in North Pole are incensed by the change, likening the Postal Service to the Grinch trying to steal Christmas. The letter program is a revered holiday tradition in North Pole, where light posts are curved and striped like candy canes and streets have names such as Kris Kringle Drive and Santa Claus Lane. Volunteers in the letter program even sign the response letters as Santa’s elves and helpers.

North Pole Mayor Doug Isaacson agreed that caution is necessary to protect children. But he’s outraged North Pole program should be affected by a sex offender’s actions on the East Coast — and he thinks it’s wrong that locals just found out about the change in recent days.

"It’s Grinchlike that the Postal Service never informed all the little elves before the fact," he said. "They’ve been working on this for how long?"

The Postal Service began restricting its policies in such programs in 2006, including requiring volunteers to show identification.

But the Maryland incident involving the sex offender prompted additional changes, even forcing the agency to briefly suspend the Operation Santa program last year in New York and Chicago.

The agency now prohibits volunteers from having access to children’s family names and addresses, said spokeswoman Sue Brennan. The Postal Service instead redacts the last name and addresses on each letter and replaces the addresses with codes that match computerized addresses known only to the post office — and leaves it up to individual post offices if they want to go through the time-consuming effort to shield the information.

Anchorage-based agency spokeswoman Pamela Moody said dealing with the tighter restrictions is not feasible in Alaska.

"It’s always been a good program, but we’re in different times and concerned for the privacy of the information," she said.

Moody stressed that kids around the world can still send letters to Santa Claus. The Postal Service still runs the giant Operation Santa Program in which children around the world can have their letters to Santa answered, and the restrictions do not affect private organizations running their own letter efforts.

But what will change are the generically addressed letters to "Santa Claus, North Pole" that for years have been forwarded to volunteers in the Alaska town. That program will stop, unless changes are made before Christmas.

Losing the Santa-letter cache is a blow to the community of 2,100 people, who pride themselves on their Christmas ties. Huge tourist attractions here include an everything-Christmas store, Santa Claus House, and the post office, where visitors can get a hand-stamped postmark on their postcards and packages if they ask for it…

Santa Claus House, built like a Swiss chalet and chock full of all items Christmas, sells more than 100,000 letters from Santa and one of the lures is the postmark.

Operations manager Paul Brown believes his business will be affected under changes to the volunteer Santa letter program because tens of thousands of letters are addressed to Santa Claus House, North Pole, Alaska.

Those letters will still be forwarded to volunteers but it’s unclear yet if anything will be done with them. Those intercepted by the postal service will probably eventually be shredded…

So, to review. The US Post Office, which just reported losing another $3.8 billion dollars last year is cutting a program in Alaska that costs them nothing, but which certainly garners them a lot of goodwill. (And never mind the seasonal jobs that will be lost.)

And why are they ending the program in Alaska? Because someone saw one purported sex offender among volunteer – in Maryland? (Before he wrote any letters.) One person?

And the sex offender was actually involved in a completely different program, Operation Santa, a program that the Post Office stresses it will continue:

Moody stressed that kids around the world can still send letters to Santa Claus. The Postal Service still runs the giant Operation Santa Program in which children around the world can have their letters to Santa answered…

In this program the volunteer “adopts” a letter to Santa from a child from a poor neighborhood, and sends back a gift to the poor child.

Doesn’t that sound just as susceptible to abuse, if not more? But perhaps because of its income redistribution aspect, the Post Office is allowed to go on.

According to the New York Times:

Operation Santa began in 1912, strictly with postal worker involvement. In the 1940s, the public got to answer letters. Similar programs exist in post offices in Newark, Washington, Los Angeles and Dallas, among other places. New York’s is by far the biggest one, attracting around 500,000 letters a year. Something like 3,000 people a day show up to participate.

But somehow writing back letters from the North Pole isn’t “feasible” in Alaska.

Is the Post Office trying to punish Sarah Palin?

Maybe someone should tell them she is no longer governor.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Thursday, November 19th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

11 Responses to “USPS Kills Letters To Santa In Alaska”

  1. proreason

    The SEIU contract states that all letters to Santa are the responsiblity of the union.

    Case closed.

    And don’t even ask if you can change that burnt-out light-bulb over your desk at work. The union will get to it when the crush is over.

    • U NO HOO

      Interesting you should mention post office light bulbs. I worked part time at the post office and when I couldn’t see well enough because a flourescent tube was burned out above my case I was told it couldn’t be changed because there were no tubes available on site. That was in the morning. In the afternoon when I returned the tube was still burned out.

      Yes, the post office is unionized with a right to work clause, mail carriers do not have to join the union but the union negotiates a contract that applies to non-union workers.

      At the post office where I worked employees answered letters to Santa. No problem. Apparently no pedophiles.

  2. Chuckk

    I wonder how many hundreds of thousands of dollars the P.O. paid to an outside consultant to come up with this idea.

  3. This administration has no problem killing off Santa … it’s already decided that there will be a “holiday” tree at the White House.
    Does that mean no “holiday” gifts for the kids? (still don’t know their names nor am I trying very hard …) lol Seriously, no Christ, no Santa, why bother?

  4. U NO HOO

    “Is the Post Office trying to punish Sarah Palin?

    Maybe someone should tell them she is no longer governor.”

    Yeah, send someone a letter.

  5. wirenut

    Well dang-it, it was just a matter of time. I thought the ATF would have shut this man down first. All those B-B-guns
    and no FFL. Who would think the paper trail just “sleighed’ the big guy? Sorry Santa, the USPO has all the claws. Here’s to healthcare in your stocking. Happy HoliRamaKwanzaa Dude!

  6. AcrobaticTenement

    Why from a “joyous” AP? If anything, the article seemed to highlight how popular and good the program was…

  7. pagar

    Just another opportunity to destroy another part of a Christian holiday tradition and to attack Alaska by the Obama Administration.

    Ask them if they will be doing anything to attack Kwanzaa?
    “Enter a God-hating black racist named Ron Karenga. Born Ron Everett on a poultry farm in Maryland, Everett invented Kwanzaa in 1966,”

    ” On May 9, 1970, Karenga and two others tortured two women who Karenga believed had tried to poison him by placing “crystals” in his food and water.”

    “The Los Angeles Times described the events: “Deborah Jones, who once was given the title of an African queen, said she and Gail Davis were whipped with an electric cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothes at gunpoint. She testified that a hot soldering iron was placed in Miss Davis’ mouth and placed against Miss Davis’ face and that one of her own big toes was tightened in a vice. Karenga, head of US, also put detergent and running hoses in their mouths, she said.”

    “Eight years later, California State University Long Beach named Karenga the head of its Black Studies Department.”

    Link




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