SACRAMENTO, CA - Every year thousands of letters addressed to Santa Claus make their way to the Royal Oaks Post Office in Sacramento. Postal workers and volunteers read each letter and sort out those that are from families in need.
"You can tell when a little boy or girl is asking for clothes or food that their family isn't doing too well," said U.S. Postal Service spokesman Ralph Petty. "Sadly this year, we're seeing more of those kinds of letters."
Petty estimated the postal service has already received double the amount of needy letters than it did last year. "It's really bad," he said.
For the last 20 years, the Sacramento Post Office has set up the Dear Santa Station. Letters are sorted according to zip code. The public is encouraged to read through the letters, choose one from a family or child and "adopt" that child or family.
Kristine Olsen of Sacramento has been participating in the Dear Santa Station for the past 10 years. "It's emotional to read these letters," she said. "But it's the best thing I do every season."
Olsen brought two of her co-workers from PBSJ Engineering with her this year. "It only takes one time to realize it's a very worthy cause," she said. "One year we delivered presents to a house where we knew they would have no Christmas without us."
Colette Benson came with Olsen. "To me especially with the economy being so bad and there's so many more families out there in need it's just a good feeling to help," she said. "We wish we could help everybody."
Dear Santa Station:
Royal Oaks Post Office
2000 Royal Oaks Drive
Hours: Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.