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'Dear Santa' letters need volunteers, U.S. Postal Service says

December 2, 2011 | 11:47 am

Santa letters

The U.S. Postal Service kicked off its 99th Operation Santa this week and is looking for companies, charities and individual volunteers to adopt letters from needy children and families.

Every year, post offices in greater L.A. receive 20,000 to 30,000 letters a year that are addressed to Santa Claus. The postal service filters out most of them, but then identifies 3,000 for adoption.

The Postal Service needs volunteers to adopt those letters, which requires responding to them in writing and usually granting the Christmas wish. Usually, only about 10% of those pared-down letters get responses, said Postal Service spokesman Richard Maher.

Despite huge cuts and growing concern about the future of the postal service, Maher said Operation Santa will continue.

"I think as long as the postal service is delivering mail and people are still writing Dear Santa letters,  the program will continue," Maher said.

To demonstrate the power of the volunteer program, the Postal Service invited 8-year-old Shimaya Myles to an Operation Santa ribbon-cutting ceremony this week.

Myles was born with a deformed right ear and without a left ear. Her mother wrote to Santa last year, asking for an unusual Christmas gift.   

“She told her daughter her ears were in heaven,” Maher said. “And [Shimaya] wanted her to go get them for her. And she didn’t know what to say.”

Postal workers used contacts to coordinate visits to Dr. Sheryl Lewin, who performed two successful pro bono surgeries at Cedars Sinai Medical Center so that Shimaya could wear earrings like her classmates.

Those interested in adopting a letter can visit three post offices on specified days and times starting Dec. 6: Los Angeles District office, 7001 S. Central Ave., Los Angeles, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 6, 8, 13 and 15.

ZIP Codes 900-904

ZIP Codes 905-908, 917-918, 926-928

ZIP Codes: 910-916

Los Angeles District Office

7001 S. Central Ave.

Los Angeles 90051

(323) 586-4380


11am to 1 pm on:

Tues, Dec. 6; Thurs, Dec. 8;

Tues, Dec. 13; Thurs, Dec 15

Santa Ana District Office

3101 W. Sunflower Ave.

Santa Ana 92799

(714) 662-6227


11 am to 1 pm on:

Tues, Dec. 6; Thurs, Dec. 8;

Tues, Dec. 13; Thurs, Dec. 15

Sierra Coastal District Office

28201 Franklin Pkwy.

Santa Clarita 91383

(661) 775-6681


11 am to 1 pm on:

Tues, Dec. 6; Tues, Dec. 13


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Photo: Shamaya Myles, 8, received a new ear after her mother wrote to Santa and Dr. Sheryl Lewin performed two pro bono surgeries. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For the Los Angeles Times