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Postal workers answer Santa's mail

December 24, 2004|BY WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Mail delivery time from the north pole has been speedy this year, thanks to two of Santa's postal helpers who have been answering letters on his behalf.

Personalized letters from Santa, sent in response to those written by some area youngsters, have been delivered in about one to two days, said Richard M. Sheffield, a local postmaster.

"We've received about 100 letters addressed to Santa this year," postal worker Wanda Poffenberger said.

Since the first of the month, she and rural postal carrier Shelley Bryner have been collecting and answering letters addressed to Santa Claus and delivered to the U.S. Post Office on West Franklin Street in Hagerstown.

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For the last five years, the office has been sending personalized response letters to children who write to Santa. Some letters are hand-delivered to the post office, while others are mailed with postage stamps or delivered by postal carriers who pick up letters to Santa on their routes, Sheffield said.

"It started before I got here, but I thought it was a good idea and I decided to continue the tradition," he said.

Poffenberger said this year's letters, all of which are handwritten, average about two paragraphs in length. She said youngsters are requesting things like CD players, clothing, and toys.

"We also get asked about how Santa's reindeer are doing. Rudolph is very popular with the kids," Poffenberger said.

She said she was delighted to assist Bryner, who has been coordinating the post office's personalized Santa letter campaign for several years.

"I try and answer all their questions. I even provide the names of Santa's reindeer, and I explain that Mrs. Claus makes clothing and that Santa makes toys," she said.

Poffenberger said that this year she went the extra mile and designed colorful stationery.

"It's got a picture of Santa looking at his toy list," she said.

To add a special holiday flair, she also designed envelopes with images of reindeer and Santa printed on the outside.

"The return address also reads, 1 Reindeer Lane, the North Pole," she said.

Postal officials said they hope to continue to write and send personalized letters from Santa.

"It makes kids feel that Santa at least took the time to write them back," Sheffield said.

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