This was almost the year that thousands of Southern California children didn't hear back from Santa Claus.
Thanks to the dedication of local postal workers, 30,000 "Dear Santa" letters will be answered this holiday season.
For years, the "Operation Santa" program allowed volunteers to answer letters. But thanks to an incident last year in Maryland, the program was almost put to rest. Postal officials discovered a registered sex offender in the program. The offender was stopped before being able to contact the child, but the damage was already done.
Stricter rules went into effect and volunteers were no longer allowed to answer any actual letters. Instead, volunteers received photocopies with contact information omitted, and all letters had to be brought back to a post office for mailing.
The once-innocent program was now a time-consuming process.
Every year, Southern California post offices receive almost 30,000 "Dear Santa" letters. With the process so bloated, how could all those letters be answered?
Local postal employees found a way.
"Postal employees have stepped up to the plate and they will be answering these letters to Santa, sending either a generic reply or even going as far as to adopt letters and help those in need this time of year," Postal Service spokesman Richard Maher told City News Service.
"Our main concern is to protect the privacy of the children and parents and families this time of year," Maher told CNS. "We hope that individuals and organizations that became involved in answering Dear Santa letters in years past will turn to the many reputable charities out there this time of year and continue their goodwill."