Archive for December, 2011

December 31st, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Years 2012 from Operation Letter to Santa.com and Operation Santa.com

In light of the difficult economic and financial conditions facing us today, the choice of “Joy” as the focus of our Christmas celebrations this year may have seemed untimely at best. The bad news seems to keep coming, with little consensus as to when we may reach bottom and begin the upward climb. Yet, December is also the month when “Joy to the World” was sung all across our land, commemorating that centuries-old angelic proclamation: “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

So, in the midst of all of today’s gloom and doom, is there a place for joy? Well, in the words of Mother Teresa: “Profound joy of the heart is like a magnet that indicates the path of life. One has to follow it, even though one enters into a way full of difficulties.” That theme was echoed by author Robert D. Foster, who wrote: “Joy is an inward singing which cannot be silenced by outward negative circumstances. Yes, even when life seemingly is falling apart.” No matter your current circumstances, hold joy and appreciation in your heart and you will get through these difficult times with a smile on your face.

Operation Letter to Santa and Santa’s blog wishes you great joy in your life and a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

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December 30th, 2011

New Years Eve Do’s and Dont’s

2012 - Happy New Years from Operation Letter to Santa.comNew Years Eve is nigh and if you follow these tips you will have a safe and happy celebration!

  1. If you are invited to a party, DO bring a date. It doesn’t have to be a real date if you are not currently involved with someone. Bring a friend, a relative or a office mate to celebrate the dawn of the New Year with you. However, don’t assume that the evening has to end with a kiss at midnight. If your escort is not somebody you know well or is a relative, a quick congratulatory hug will do!
  2. This is the last night of the year and one where people typically feel comfortable letting their hair down. DO go out and have fun. Catch a live band. Join other people for street parties downtown. Make reservations at a restaurant that you normally would not go to because it is too fancy, too expensive…. the list goes on.  But be sure to eat something substantial if you are going to be drinking. Do plan on exercising patience and good will though. Remember that there will be a lot of people celebrating around you and lines for food, drinks and bathrooms will be long. Look around you while you are waiting and enjoy the revelers swirling around you. DON’T pitch a fit if you have to wait for a seat in a crowded restaurant or bar. DON’T constantly check your watch or sigh loudly. Even though you think you won’t be noticed in such a loud and lively crowd, you will! People do notice when you are being obnoxious. And they will do everything they can to avoid you and tend to the people who are being kind to them. It is just human nature.
  3. DO tip your waiter and/or bartender. They are working hard on this night!
  4. Before finalizing your New Years Eve plans, DO make sure that you have a way to get around and get back home without driving while under the influence. Find a friend who is willing to be the designated driver or check with your local cab company to see if they are offering free rides for inebriated revelers. Whatever you do, DON’T get behind the wheel if you are even just a little buzzed.
  5. DO make sure you have some hidden cash on you for emergencies and that your cell phone is fully charged.
  6. DO stick together during this fast-paced, crazy evening. Going out to parties and nightclubs means a fast-paced, crazy night; so be sure to travel in groups. Having a safety net around you in this environment, especially for women, is imperative.
  7. DO drink sensibly if you are drinking.
  8. DO have a happy and healthy New Years celebration!

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December 23rd, 2011

Track Santa to Your House on Christmas Eve

Track Santa to your house on Christmas Eve - Operation Letter to Santa.comAs you know, Santa has an enormous list of children who are expecting him to deliver Christmas goodies on Christmas Eve.

In order to track Santa’s progress around the world, NORAD has organized a global tracking system to help you determine when you can expect Santa to arrive in your neighborhood.

Remember to put out milk and cookies for Santa and even some reindeer food before saying your prayers and nodding off to sleep.

Click here to track Santa!

 

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!

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December 22nd, 2011

A year without a Santa Claus

USPS carrier not allowed to deliver while wearing Santa suit.

Bob McLean, a mail carrier with the United States Postal Service since 1971, has been barred from wearing his signature Santa suit while he delivers the mail. - Nat Levy, Bellevue Reporter

By NAT LEVY
Bellevue Reporter Staff Writer

While dreams of Santa popping down the chimney on Christmas Eve to deliver presents were extinguished for most during childhood, a select few Bellevue residents have seen St. Nick trade in his sleigh for a mail truck.

Until now.

For more than a decade now, letter carrier Bob McLean has driven around Bellevue each holiday season, delivering a little Christmas cheer while wearing a full Santa getup for two or three days. But this year, a local grinch complained to the U.S. Postal Service, and McLean has been banned from bringing his alter ego to work this year.

“The government is shutting me down because it’s a non-postal regulation uniform,” said McLean, who has been with the postal service since 1971.

McLean began donning the red and white when a stranger at the mall told him he looked like Santa Claus. Always the crowd pleaser, McLean took to the comparison, went out and bought a suit, and then another.

When he first started delivering mail in full Santa garb, McLean immediately noticed the attention. He said he’s caused traffic jams on his route on Old Main as passing drivers attempted to catch a glimpse. Merchants along his route have watched for years as McLean has been the center of attention to tourists and residents alike.

“They stop him on the corner and want group pictures with him,” said Brenda Archuletta, manager of Amore Chocolates. “Little kids – they just stare because they wonder.”

They wonder because he fits the character. Every bit Kris Kringle, McLean sports a white beard and a tuft of long white hair. Looking the part is no easy effort, either. He dyes his blond hair, and keeps a careful eye on the calendar when he trims the beard.

The only part of the Santa look he lacks is the portly figure, after losing 95 pounds.

McLean has brought his alter ego to Bellevue’s most popular Christmas attraction, Snowflake Lane, where he took his family a few years ago. He said they were pushed aside as 50 people lined up to take pictures.

He’s also been a big hit at the Aegis Living of Bellevue senior center. He visits regularly as both Santa and mailman. The residents know him well, and  are always excited when Santa knows their name, he said.

But only a few days after Thanksgiving this year, he was pulled off his route by a supervisor saying someone had complained about the uniform. He didn’t know who he had upset, or why the complaint was filed.

“This was the first time; I don’t know what happened,” he said. “I don’t step on anyone’s toes. Being Santa isn’t religious to me; it’s secular. It’s about giving.”

USPS spokesman Ernie Swanson said the complaint came from a fellow carrier. Decked out in the full on Santa suit, McLean was not recognizable as a USPS employee.

McLean is still shocked over the outcome. He sees carriers wearing Christmas gear all the time. Either way, McLean said, he will bring the Christmas cheer, and he plans to don the Santa suit at work one last time: Christmas Eve.

Bob McLean delivers mail along his route while dressed as Santa Claus in 2009. CHAD COLEMAN, Bellevue Reporter File Photo

Contact Bellevue Reporter Staff Writer Nat Levy at nlevy@bellevuereporter.com or 425-453-4290.

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December 22nd, 2011

School Students Answer “Dear Santa” Letters From Needy Children

SANTA GETS EXTRA SUPPORT FROM SOME UNEXPECTED HELPERS

By: Jahkedda Akbar and Ariel Merrick, Common Cents Interns

“We have $500 to buy items for needy families,” fifth grade students from PS 163 in Manhattan explained as they rode the subway to the 34th Street Post Office. They headed there, led by Sue Knaster, the school’s Math Coach, as part of a “Dear Santa” Neighborhood Service project they organized to help families during the holidays. The students were excited to help, but knew they would have a difficult task ahead: they could only choose 3 families to support.

At the Post Office, the students headed right to the Santa Station — a section of the post office where all of the “Dear Santa” letters are kept during the holidays – and gathered around a long table. Dear Santa is a national program run by the United States Postal Service each year to help families in need during the holiday season. Children and parents write letters and then local donors purchase items they request. This year, the students at PS 163 decided to be the local donors and help brighten the holidays.  

At the post office, students were given a batch of Dear Santa letters to consider. One student commented, “I don’t know how many of these I can read. It’s so sad.” They were shocked to find families that did not have basic necessities like clothing. After reading several letters, each student selected at least one family they wanted to help.

One-by-one, students spoke on behalf of the letter they selected. Then, they debated which letters should be selected. One student, Melanie, remembers agreeing to some basic criteria, “We didn’t choose any families that wanted electronics or all toys. We focused on people who needed clothes, shoes and jackets.” In addition, they felt strongest about families with one parent and more than one child.

After two hours the group decided to help three families and set off to buy the items on the list. Together, the students walked to a local clothing store, split into groups – one for each family – and scoured for the best deals and the items they thought were the nicest – they wanted each family to have a big Christmas with lots of gifts. Each group had $100 to spend; one student asked, “If we don’t go over $100, can we buy something for the mother too.” Another student followed by asking if she could contribute her own money if they needed more.

After the shopping was complete, the students returned to school to wrap the gifts and prepare them for Christmas morning. By the end of the day, it was clear that not only would these families have a happier Christmas, but the students would as well.

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December 22nd, 2011

Dear Santa: ‘Honorary elf’ sends children’s wishes on to North Pole

Source: Johnson City Press.com

By Madison Mathews – Press Staff Writer

With Christmas only a couple of weeks away, Santa Claus and his merry band of elves are working around the clock gathering the wants, wishes and desires of children around the world.

Checking and re-checking his list, making sure Rudolph and the other reindeer are ready for their flight and stocking his sleigh with gift after gift is a lot of work for the man in red. That’s why Santa has dispatched honorary elves all over the world to read through children’s letters so he knows exactly what to pack in his bag before embarking on his journey on Christmas Eve.

Johnson City is lucky enough to have one of Santa’s expert helpers working overtime to gather the region’s letters and send them on their way to Santa’s workshop in the North Pole. Valorie Hall, a city letter carrier, has acted as Santa’s leading Tri-Cities representative since 2005.

Thanks to Hall’s hard work and her constant communication with the bearded one, thousands of letters containing the Christmas wishes of many children have been answered by none other than Kris Kringle himself.

Many of the letters don’t waste any time getting to the point, like one boy who asked Santa for video games, Legos, remote-controlled cars, movies and even a 12-gauge shotgun. Out of the page full of items asked for, the boy left Santa with one more request.

“If I get anything, please let it be a cell phone,” he said.

Dear Santa: ‘Honorary elf’ sends children’s wishes on to North Pole  - Operation Letter to Santa.comOther letters start off with children asking for things that will help those around them, like a request from the following girl:

“My wish for Christmas is for all the sick peaple and sick animals to get whell and for the animals, like birds, dogs and cats to find home(s),” she said.

The little girl then continued to ask Santa for a copy of “Ghost Hunters” on video, before making another wish for “orfens” to get toys and for them to find “perents.”

Going through the letters is a lot of work, and Hall said sometimes a child’s letter will really tug on the heartstrings, like one letter written from a boy who only had one wish for this Christmas.

“My wish for Christmas is that the U.S. will bring the troops home,” the boy said.

So far, Hall has received about 200 letters, and there’s still plenty of time to get them to the North Pole, however, she said the sooner a letter arrives at the Carroll Reece U.S. Post Office on North State of Franklin Road, the better. That way, Santa will be able to write a letter back to the child.

When writing a letter to Santa, Hall said there are two very important rules to remember.

“First of all, Santa doesn’t require a stamp, so just send it to the North Pole,” she said.

Hall added that each letter addressed to Santa should include a return address somewhere in the letter or on the envelope, so Santa knows who to write back to.

Once the letter is in St. Nick’s hands, it’s only a matter of time before he uses his holiday magic to send word that he’s working hard to make sure their Christmas wishes will be answered.

“He handles everything. I just make sure they get the letter,” Hall said. “Santa knows everything. He knows if you’ve been bad or good. He’s got the inside scoop.”

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December 22nd, 2011

Blanco, Texas ‘postal elves’ make special deliveries to Santa

by Eric Gonzales / KENS 5

There are two places in Texas you can get a hold of Santa by mail. One of those places is at the Blanco, Texas post office.

Blanco got a new postmaster in October and she started a program called Operation Santa.

“The children write the letters to Santa. We accept them here and then we find individuals to help Santa,” said Blanco postmaster, Tina Kmetz.

She says the locals help out by adopting the letters. So far, there has been a 100 percent response rate back to the kids.

The postal service calls the responders “postal elves” and say the program has been going on for almost 100 years.

“Dear Santa, how do you fill your sock up with those toys, and how do your reindeer fly? I’ve been pretty good this year with just a little bad, “ one of the letters reads.

Tina says she has been impressed how local Blanconians have stepped up and adopted the letters.

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