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Letters to Santa

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As far as we can tell, for most teens, giving back to their community is not something that happens just once a year. Often, service hours are a required part of graduating from high school, and anyone who has ever filled out a college application knows how important they can be. But because we talk to teens all the time, we know that for most of them, they’re not just volunteering because they have to — and we’re thrilled to be able to tell those stories every day on the show.

This time of year, however, the needs of those who could use some help tend to be heightened. And sometimes when we hear about something amazing, we can’t help wanting to get involved ourselves. So this year, the Channel One staff is participating in a program called Letters to Santa by choosing a letter and buying a gift for a kid who needs one. We like the program so much that we wanted to share the story here in case it’s something that appeals to you too.
If you ever wrote a letter to Santa when you were younger, you might have wondered what happened to it after you dropped it in the mailbox. (If you’re still on the fence about the Santa Claus issue, read this, and this.) For some of you, your mom or dad probably snagged your letter before doing their holiday shopping. But if you’ve ever seen the movie Miracle on 34th Street, you know that lots of letters end up in New York’s main post office. Most land in a pile in dead-letter offices around the country.
Sometime in the 1910′s, however, Post Office workers started opening the letters and when a kid seemed to be in particular need, they sent them a present. Soon, other people started participating, and before long, lots of others started answering the letters. Now, Post Offices around the country participate in the program — you can find a complete list and all of the details here. As for the letters themselves, according to a website about the program, they run the gamut. Most letters are from kids in need, but not all. The Post Office ‘elves’ who open the letters decide if they should be a part of the program or not.
If you’re interested in the program — it’s not too late! Here are a few more details that will make it easier for you to find out more. If you decide to participate, or if you have another great holiday project you’d like other to hear about, share it in the comments.

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