Operation Santa answers letters, delivers hope to needy children

December 4, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The post office delivered big time Wednesday morning with another version of "Operation Santa." It's about Santa Claus, of course, and kids. But more than anything, it's about the letters to Santa that arrive here every year at this time. They arrive filled with hope and sometimes desperation. And there is a never-ending supply.

"So far we have over 3,000 letters. We're expecting anywhere from 10,000- 12,000 letters to come in," said Necchi Tunious, Chief Elf, Operation Santa.

Not even Santa can read all that many letters, so he has help. Anyone can come in and pick up as many letters as they want and then grant the wishes. Companies and organizations send in teams of readers to pick out the most touching.

"The ones that really speak to us are the needy ones. That might say 'I can't even get a Christmas tree this year,'" said Ashley Jones, "There Really is a Santa Claus" Club.

"It's coats, hats, mittens, pants, sweaters, pajamas. It's not iPads and Xboxes," said Matt Peresh, "There Really is a Santa Claus" Club.

The letter reader volunteers then buy the gifts and bring the presents back here to the post office and Operation Santa.

"They pay for the postage of the gifts and we mail those presents to the homes of the needy. . .Direct from Santa," said Tunious.

Many years ago I did this story and one letter still sticks with me. It was from a little girl very appropriately named "Star". She didn't ask for presents, she just told about the problems her family was having. The last line in the letter? "Please bring my mommy eyes that never cry."

"Ooooh! No, it's not. We have a lot of children that actually write in for their parents. And they want food for their home, shelter or clothing," said Tunious.

Letters to Santa. There are less than three weeks left.

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