Letters to Santa reveal pandemic worries of Texas children

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Every year, the letters pour in.

This year, some of the Christmas wishes reflect more heartbreak and stress that so many have felt during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These letters to Santa Claus are from Texas children.

"Hi, my name is Jayden and I've been a really good boy this year. Santa, I wish you can make my wishes come true. I'm 8 years old"

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Jayden goes on to write about wanting a Nintendo Switch and pajamas. At the bottom, she included one more wish.

"Santa thank you in advance, can you please help my parents with a visa gift card so they can pay for our bills and food? They lost their jobs with covid-19. Santa, this has been so hard for my family, please help."

A letter from 11-year-old Brice had a similar story.

"Santa, this year has been hard for my parents. They lost their jobs because of COVID-19, they won't have any money to buy us our Christmas wishes"

Brice's letter went on to ask for a bicycle and a Houston Rockets jersey and items for the rest of the family.

"Santa please help my parents with money for bills and food. That will make my parents very happy."

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In their letters to Santa Claus, kids across the US are still asking for toys, clothes, Legos and video games. But in a year filled with illness and uncertainty, a review of letters addressed to the North Pole and collected through the Post Office's Operation Santa program reveals the pandemic is weighing heavily on children.

Some are imploring Santa to make coronavirus go away. Others are asking for masks for Christmas. Still others write about the challenges of going to school online or how their parents can't afford to buy presents this year because they lost their jobs.

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The Postal Service helps fulfill Christmas wishes


The Postal Service began receiving letters to Santa Claus more than a century ago. Operation Santa dates to 1912, when Frank Hitchcock, the postmaster general at the time, allowed postal workers to open and respond to letters addressed to the North Pole.

Post offices worked with volunteers who agreed to "adopt" letters from needy children and send them items on their wish lists.

In 2017, the effort went online in a few major cities. This year, for the first time, the USPS posted all the letters on its Operation Santa site for Samaritans across the country who wish to help kids and their families.

The Postal Service encourages volunteer donors to go online, pick a child's letter to "adopt" and fill out a registration form. The donor then buys the gifts and brings them to their local post office, where a postal worker matches the number on the letter with the child's address and mails them off. For privacy reasons, donors don't have access to recipients' addresses.

"Children open up to a figure like Santa because he's seen as a helpful, trustworthy person who spreads joy," said child psychologist Avital Cohen, founder of Peachtree Pediatric Psychology in Atlanta. "What I read in these letters is that kids really are thinking about the needs of their parent or the world and not just their own desires this year (though of course some kids are asking for the gifts they want this year, which is to be expected!)," Cohen said in an email to CNN.

Since October children and adults in the US this year have sent more than 10,000 notes and cards to Santa -- many of them reflecting the year's hardships, said Kimberly Frum, a spokeswoman for the USPS.

"2020 has seen its share of challenges affecting individuals and families in so many ways. Covid-19 resulted in job losses, temporary unemployment and sadly, the loss of family and friends," Frum said in an email to CNN.

"The program has always been about providing holiday gifts for families who may not have the means to provide for anything more than basic everyday needs. This year, there are likely more families impacted financially and emotionally."

Most of the letters to Santa have already been adopted by donors, Frum said. Postal workers will continue uploading new letters through December 15.

Many kids' letters reflect the reality of life in 2020


In a holiday season unlike any other, with masked Santas behind plexiglass barriers, the annual tradition of writing letters to the North Pole may provide children with a bit of normalcy.

But the sentiments in many of their letters aren't quite like normal.

A Texas girl named Kimberly, 13, is not unlike many kids in asking Santa for AirPods. But she also pleaded for gifts for her three siblings and for her money-strapped parents: a workout machine for her mom and a waterproof jacket for her stepdad.
"This year has tough to all of us due to covid-19. My stepdad is the only (one) working and because of covid-19 he had to stop working full time. Now he is working less because of covid, and all the money he gets is for paying the rent and the bills," she wrote. "My parents think I am writing this for my siblings and I, but I want to surprise them for everything that they have done this year."

USPS



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Storyful contributed to this article.

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