Time for a heartwarming holiday custom: Fall by Baltimore's downtown Post Office, get checked for weapons, camp in a conference room, overhear a postal employee say, "I love the smell of mail in the morning," and read letters to Santa:
I am sorry about how I stole 150 dollers from Mom. I will never do it agian. For Christmas I would like Extreme Godzilla and some hiding places for Walter, my snake. The rest is for you to decide. I'll talk to you next year.
Each year, the Post Office receives hundreds of letters addressed to Santa. And each year, the Post Office offers its "Adopt-A-Family" program, where people can receive and answer letters from needy families.
Denise, a single mother of three children in Baltimore, wrote Santa that she was robbed of $90 in food stamps on Thanksgiving. But she spends just one line of her Santa letter on the reported theft.
It's not the point.
I want to see my kids happy Christmas morning. These are the best kids in the world!
My ninth grader Rodney is adjusting to High School. I would like assistance in finding a mentor for him because his father is not in his life. He needs a positive male role model to show him he can be the best man he can.
These "Needy" letters are typically written by single parents, often unemployed, often sick or injured, forever polite and proud. There's no mention of Game Boys or Backstreet Boys, Beast Wars or "Star Wars." The adults talk of sizes for pants and shirts and underclothes for their children -- and for themselves.
I like to get from you a nice heavy winter jacket with a hood. I have to walk to my work so please send me a nice heavy jacket size XL and a nice shoe for my work size 8.
For Hanukkah, Jan and Larry Coleman of Cross Keys decided to "adopt" five families in the Post Office program. The Colemans received five letters, mainly from families in need of clothes and blankets.
"I'd just finished wrapping the last of our Hanukkah presents," says Jan Coleman, "when I swear I looked at every present -- I was so sick." How could we buy so much, when other people need so much? she asked herself.
So, the Colemans and their children -- Jerry, Bryan and Lisa -- plan to deliver presents to five Baltimore families for the holidays. Her children, Jan Coleman adds, are all grown and out of the house. "This would be such a great story -- what -- 20 years ago?" Jan says, laughing.
Can I have a trumpet. 10 dinosaurs and 1000 Legos. A wrestling guy that says something wherever you hurt him.
4( P.S. Money, Money, Money. About $50.
Also from the lighter side of the mailbag, Lauren's and Richard's four-page list shows exquisite range and taste: Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Maker, a rotten egg, bookmarks, a jacket, "Peter Pan" with Cathy Rigby (she's currently appearing on Broadway, but her presence is required in Baltimore), Moon boots, diary with lock, Twister, Nebula Ball, unicycles and Bed Time Bubba (perhaps a new White House line of toys?).
Amazingly, the word Furby doesn't appear on this or any other letter. The much-hyped, much-hawked Furby is this year's Tickle Me Elmo -- last year's must-have toy. Maybe kids are trying to tell us something, such as: "Think Produce."
This year for Christmas I wold like a typewriter, a deck of cards, a tin of candy that weighs fifteen pounds, a bowl of fruit, a peach, and a pear.
From Alexandria in Baltimore:
I would realy, realy, realy want a little red kitten, some kitten toys, a coler and a green one too, and please macke it a in door kitten. (Note to Alexandria: Do not alert Robert's snake, Walter, to your future kitten's whereabouts. It's a nature thing. Trust us.)
To recap, Graham wants a bowl of fruit, Jeya needs an extra-large coat for the walk to work, Dimitri wants a wrestling guy who moans in pain, the Colemans want to give next year too, and Robert needs hiding places for Walter.
Is this too much to ask?
To help answer "Santa" letters from needy families, call the Post Office at 410-347-4260.
Pub Date: 12/16/98