Groups helping Santa respond to kids' letters

Posted: Monday, December 16, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Com-munity groups again this year are helping Santa respond to all those letters and cards from children.

Just how to respond sometimes is a challenge.

For instance, there was the letter from the little girl sent to Santa in Fairbanks that said, ''Dear Santa: Please don't bring my sister a thing. She has been terrible all year.''

More post offices around the country have stepped in to intercept letters addressed to ''Santa, North Pole'' and found volunteers to answer them, but a large number still make it all the way to Fairbanks. So far, 28,000 letters have been received.

One local group responding to a considerable volume of Santa mail is the Northern Lights Badger Lions Club, which already has answered about 5,500 letters.

The community groups also are contributing stationery, stamps, envelopes and form letters.

''We have a large pile that's smaller than what it was,'' said Gabby Gaborik, the manager of Santa's Pull Tabs and a Lions Club member.

He said two volunteers from North Pole High School, Sarah Langford and Dawn Ritter, have been a great help to the Lions.

There's another type of Santa mail that is popular this time of year. From all over the country people mail their cards to Fairbanks in large envelopes so the individual letters can pick up a North Pole postmark before the cards are dispatched hither and yon.

More than 44,000 North Pole cancellations have been issued so far, most of them sent by people from elsewhere who want their Christmas cards to have the North Pole name.

After they are stamped with the North Pole postmark, the letters are mailed from Fairbanks.

If you want to get this Christmas cancellation that shows Santa, you can drop letters in the decorated boxes in post offices.

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