Friday, November 20, 2009

Post Office Drops Popular Santa Program

The Associated Press reports, "The U.S. Postal Service is dropping a popular national program begun in 1954 in the small Alaska town of North Pole, where volunteers open and respond to thousands of letters addressed to Santa each year. Replies come with North Pole postmarks."

According to the report by AP reporter Rachel D'Oro, "Last year, a postal worker in Maryland recognized an Operation Santa volunteer there as a registered sex offender. The postal worker interceded before the individual could answer a child's letter, but the Postal Service viewed the episode as a big enough scare to tighten rules in such programs nationwide."

USPS spokeswoman Sue Brennan is quoted in the piece as saying the agency now prohibits volunteers from having access to children's family names and addresses.

According to Brennan, "The Postal Service instead redacts the last name and addresses on each letter and replaces the addresses with codes that match computerized addresses known only to the post office — and leaves it up to individual post offices if they want to go through the time-consuming effort to shield the information."

Apparently dealing with the tighter restrictions is not feasible in Alaska.

However, the good news is kids around the world can still send letters to Santa Claus. The Postal Service still runs the giant Operation Santa Program in which children around the world can have their letters to Santa answered, and the restrictions do not affect private organizations running their own letter efforts.

To read the entire article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM