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Santa's helpers have the 'write stuff'

December 19, 1998|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Santa's helpers in the Tri-State area are pitching in to help answer letters addressed to the North Pole.

"Like I tell my son, 'Santa is very busy and he can't read everything. He needs help,'" said Kelley Seiler, a 37-year-old Hagerstown postal worker who has been answering some of Santa's mail locally since 1982.

"He can't read them all, but Santa knows what's in every one," Seiler tells his 8-year-old son.

Two years ago Seiler responded to almost 270 letters. This year he's only received about 20, he said.

During the weeks before Christmas, volunteers and postal employees from New York to California are as busy as elves.

According to estimates from the U.S. Postal Service headquarters in Washington, D.C., more than one million letters addressed to Santa Claus are answered each year.

At the Martinsburg, W.Va., post office Gladi Davenport handles Santa's letters originating from 16 cities and towns.

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"I let them know how the reindeer are doing, and send them hugs and kisses from Mrs. Claus and remind them to be good," said Davenport, who has been one of Santa's helpers for the past three years.

This year, Davenport, 48, has handled about 120 letters for Santa, and more keep coming in every day.

"I really enjoy it," Davenport said. "It's nice to read what's going on in their lives. And to see how innocent they still are."

"It's nice to see so many kids still doing this," she said. "We all grow up too soon."

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