HAMMONTON, N.J. -- Every holiday season, Hammonton's big red fire trucks have to compete for attention with the big red mailbox outside of Station 2. The letters contained within are all addressed to, you guessed it, the man in the big red suit.
"We thought this was just another great way to engage with the community outside of emergencies," said Lieutenant Joe Lizza.
This year marks the 5th annual Letters to Santa operation, in which volunteer firefighters work hard to make sure each child who sends a letter to Santa will receive a reply in time for Christmas.
"When we started year one, we had about 400 letters received, so that was our first year," said Lizza. "Last year, we had 640 letters."
Only time will tell how many letters slide through the clunky mailbox this year. But at least one of them was penned by 5-year-old Alina DiGuglielmo from Mays Landing. Her mother, Amanda, helped her write her special note today.
"We know that it's going directly to Santa," said Amanda DiGuglielmo. "And we know we get a letter back about a week or two later, so it's very exciting."
The mother-daughter-duo dropped off their letter today. Now, they will wait to see what Santa has to say.
"I hope she continues these traditions that we started," said DiGuglielmo. "And I hope one day she gets to do all that with her children. And just keep the magic of Christmas alive."
The official drop box is located at 51 N White Horse Pike, Hammonton, New Jersey. Children in the surrounding communities are invited to send letters until Thursday, December 15, 2022. This gives Santa enough time to make sure everyone gets a response before Christmas day. Each letter sent must include the child's name and a proper return address.
To learn more about the special holiday operation, visit the Hammonton Fire Department website.