Letters to Santa amid pandemic focus less on toys, more on basic needs

Published: Dec. 24, 2020 at 6:48 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -Thousands of letters to Santa arrive at the post office each year, but in the midst of pandemic hardships the wish lists look different.

A Janesville man went the extra mile to make kids smile on Christmas.

Kids are making a list and checking it twice.

Every holiday season children jot down their must-haves and send them off to the North Pole. Lists are typically filled with the latest toys, but during a pandemic kids are asking Santa for basic needs. One child asked Santa for money to pay his parent’s bills and internet to do homework.

“It’s just heartbreaking to see this,” Paul Agnello, lives in Janesville said. “The kids deserve something, especially now.”

Agnello went to the Janesville post office to join Operation Santa. It’s a century old USPS program calling on Santa’s helpers to put presents under the tree for families in need.

“I said, ‘Can i help out?’ She said, ‘Yes. I’ll read them to you. You can run out and pick a few things up, bring them back to me and I’ll mail them to the kids,” Agnello said.

“Every year we always get letters from kids to Santa asking him for a number of things, and some of them are quite heartfelt,” Bob Sheehan, USPS Lakeland District spokesperson said.

This is the first year Operation Santa expanded nationwide.

Sheehan works for USPS and has seen the letters firsthand.

“It certainly pulls your heartstrings when you see a letter like that because you understand how lucky you are and how some people are suffering through the pandemic,” he said.

Sheehan said this year spreading kindness is more important than ever and the gift of giving is priceless.

“This is a very extraordinary time for people. They’ve lost their jobs. Many people are hurting,” he said.

Operation Santa ended for this holiday season. Nearly 24,000 kids in the United States already received gifts from Santa. This year 400 came from Wisconsinites.

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