Don’t send letters to Santa in North Pole, Alaska – Update

The United States Post Office will not be forwarding letters to Santa at the North Pole this year. Other programs and private efforts go on, but some are questioning why the USPS is unwilling to forward letters to the North Poll where volunteers – not employees – respond to the kids with letters including sought-after North Pole postmarks on the letter.

Update: North Pole post office cleared to continue answering letters.

From the Associated Press.

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.

From what I can figure, the program does not cost the post office anything since the kids are putting stamps on their letters to Santa and volunteers are happily chipping in up north. But Steve over at Sweetness & Light picks apart the story.

The post office refers to one case where a sex offender was scheduled to answer letters while working for their Operation Santa program.

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.

There was no problem up at the North Pole, but that program – which is totally different than Operation Santa – is being nixed since the post office will not be forwarding the mail to Alaska.

So, as Steve over at Sweetness & Light notes, the post office has one problem with one person at Operation Santa, and elects to nix the volunteer program up at the North Pole that has nothing to do with Op Santa, but keeps Op Santa where they had the one problem?

It may be a bit over the top to suggest – as Steve does – that the USPS is punishing Alaska for giving us the gift of Sarah Palin, but to shred the letters to Santa that happen to be addressed to the North Pole is just rude.

Those letters [sent to North Pole] will still be forwarded to volunteers but it’s unclear yet if anything will be done with them. Those intercepted by the postal service will probably eventually be shredded.