Why not try something a little different this year? All right, to be fair, some of you who read this may already practice something like this as a part of your Holiday tradition but I’m thinking there is a larger majority that doesn’t, yours truly included.
This year it’s time to do it. It’s time to be an Elf!
Every year the U.S. Postal Service gets literally hundreds of thousands – actually, probably closer to a million – of letters addressed to Old St. Nick. Starting in November, they just start rolling in and for the last 100 years, thanks to Operation Santa (spearheaded by the fine folks at the USPS), those letters have been getting read and, with the help of volunteers like you and me, getting into the hands of people who desire to help.
This year seems especially poignant, with so many on the east coast still suffering the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy. The New Jersey area post offices have been inundated with kids writing Santa asking for very heart-wrenching gifts. Things like blankets and food.
Volunteers man Operation Santa and they report that this year the letters are so full of despair they literally cry through them. Young kids asking for shoes and other basic necessity items have led Pete Fontana, chief of Elf Operations, to proclaim this year “the neediest year I could ever imagine”; so bad that the 16-year veteran of the program has actually quit reading the letters.
If you’ve never done it, this is the year to lend a hand. Here’s how the program works: at 26 post office location across the county you can stop by and adopt a letter. It’s as simple as filling out a short form and then going through the cataloged letters that have had all identifying info removed, till you find one that rings true to you. Fontana says it best to “pick a letter that touches your heart and fits your budget.” When you choose the letter you’ll be fulfilling, you’ve made the move to Elf. You go out and pick up the wish list and then return the items with the letter that has the identifying info included and pay the postage. The post office will then address and deliver the goods.
I really can’t think of a better way to put the joy of the Holiday season into your heart. You can get all the information you need, including a complete listing of all 26 locations that are participating in the program, by following this link. They are all over the country and I think a lot of you will be surprised that there is one near you. I live in Northeast Ohio and we’ve got one here. Also at the Be An Elf website are examples of some of the letters received. If they don’t bring a tear to your eye and move you to action, then I don’t know what else possibly could.
One of the letters sums it up best: “Please don’t forget about me this year.”
Let’s all be an Elf this year, shall we?
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