Operation Santa off to bright start - Philadelphia News

December 3, 2008 "Operation Santa" has been up and running just 3 days this year, and already Philadelphia's main post office has received more than 500 letters.

2,000 will be sent before the holiday and more and more people are finding the time and desire to give.

As "Operation Santa's" chief elf, mail carrier Crystal Brown makes sure she has answers for everyone who comes to peruse Santa's letters.

Sandi Backlund has been answering Santa's letters for the "Dear Santa Society" for 20 years.

Today, she was looking for 50 children with whom to share some Christmas joy, remembering one of the first letters she ever read:

"A young man from Norristown thought he was being street smart, and he said, 'Yo Santa, I really don't want nuttin' for myself, but would you get sheets for my sisters bed?' That just tore me," Backlund said.

2 of the 14 employees at Mercer Consulting Firm came today, after deciding to give a special holiday to a family of 4, instead of exchanging gifts among themselves.

"We're all going to donate and put some money in; we thought we'd do something a little different," Jennifer Diodato said.

2 staff members from Senator Vince Hughes' 7th senatorial district stopped by to begin selecting the more than 100 families his "Senators for Santa" program will help this holiday.

"We try to ascertain additional info about other family members, other children because the goal is really to bless an entire family," Kimberly Everett said.

Their efforts go well beyond the person who wrote the letter to form a long-lasting relationship.

"We just make a connection and it's just really wonderful," Everett said.

The letters aren't all from children.

Several grandmothers have written in, asking for help providing the grandchildren they were raising with a happy holiday.

If you'd like to send a letter to "Operation Santa" send it to:

Philadelphia's Main Post Office
30th and Chestnut Sts.
Philadelphia, Pa. 19104

If you want to answer a letter, you must come in person to the post office between 10:00 a.m. - 4 p.m., Mondays through Fridays up until December 22nd.

More coverage for the holidays from 6abc.com

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