Changes to USPS Letters to Santa program upend charities' plans
USPS aims to protect privacy of needy Letters to Santa writers, after an incident last year in which a registered sex offender obtained the address of a child. Charities scramble to adjust.
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He says having the post office as an intermediary would scare off some recipients from reaching out for help.Skip to next paragraph
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"These are people who are not already involved in the system where some aid is getting to them ... and who may be uncomfortable getting involved in government programs or who don't want government scrutiny or had bad experiences with official relief organizations in the past," says Albini. "They're people who have literally no other recourse, and those are the people who are the most important to help."
Letters to Santa, which dates from 1912, is best known for its portrayal in the 1947 movie "Miracle on 34th Street." New York City and Chicago are the two biggest letter-generators; New York receives about 500,000 letters each holiday season. Postal districts volunteer to participate; over the years, says the USPS's Brennan, corporations and charitable organizations have stepped in to pick up the slack.
Concern over the changes also registered in the small town of North Pole, Alaska. US Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) last week told the Associated Press she is looking into the changes upon learning that a volunteer group that had been responding to letters addressed to Santa since the 1950s would no longer be able to do so under the new rules.
US Rep. Danny Davis (D) says he, too, is "in favor of the program" and that he contacted Postmaster General John Potter Wednesday but did not reach him. Congressman Davis says he plans to try again Friday.
"You can kind of see both sides," he says. "You can see the post office side in terms of liability ... on the other hand, if you are giving, you would like to have a sense of feeling that you are engaged. So I think there's merit on both sides. I just hope that the kids get a little something for Christmas."
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