Local hospital has direct access to North Pole

December 24, 2008 3:16:51 PM PST
Walking into a hospital may not give you the warmest feeling. Noisy phones, heavy machine and baskets full of needles can be scary- especially for kids. "When they go in and see all the tubes and wires and a sick one in bed, it can be very stressful for them," nurse educator Kerry Helton said.

But countering that stress is a glimmer of hope. Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County, New Jersy has three secret mailboxes that give kids direct access to Santa

"This is the official express mail North pole letter," Chaplain Connie Giampaulo said holding up the pre-addresses letters. Kids in the ER or those visiting loved ones in the hospital can write to Santa.

"And in the middle of the night, Santa's helper comes and gathers up all the letters," Giampaulo said.

Some kids ask for the usual requests- legos, games, and Nintendo. Other kids share their pain of a lost loved one. One girl asks Santa to keep her mommy alive. A source close to Santa's secret helper said all the letters are answered.

"He does answer them with all the love he can muster to let them know he will be looking over them and saying prayers for their loved ones here at the hospital," Kathleen Haines, who has close ties to Santa's elf, said.

Along with a letter from the Big man, kids also get special reindeer food with magic crystals. "It helps Santa to be alerted that the reindeer food sparkling is another child below in need of a visit from Santa," Haines said.

"It helps them know that someone cares, it helps them know that someone's listening," Giampaulo added.

This is the third year elves have operated the special hospital mailboxes. They receive an average of 100 letters per year.


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