With all the modern technological gadgets available to kids to connect with Santa Claus, as well as keeping track of his whereabouts, there’s still nothing that can beat the good old-fashioned handwritten letter.
If you don’t believe that, just ask new Mariaville residents David and Kim Walker who, for the past seven years or so, have been working as “Santa’s mailroom helpers,” answering letters written by children to the jolly old gentleman who calls the North Pole home.
David, who was employed for 31 years at Bath Iron Works, and Kim, owner of Happy Trails and Tales in Mariaville, encourage youngsters to write a letter to Santa Claus and send it in care of David and Kim Walker, 53 Robert’s Way, Mariaville 04605.
To get a reply to that letter, all you have to do is include a stamp, Kim explained.
Answering letters written to Santa is a hobby for the couple who once called Skowhegan home.
“The purpose of the whole thing is to keep the fun and the memories” in Christmas, Kim told me.
“It’s kind of rough out there right now, and we want to keep the spirit of Christmas alive.”
The couple has received more than 2,000 letters through the years, “and I’ve got every one of them,” Kim said. “I never get rid of them.”
Every letter gets a response.
Kim recalled one comical letter from a little boy in Portland who wrote, “I want to let you know, Santa, that I’m the one who pulled on my sister’s hair.
“But I still hope I can get a good gift.”
A little girl wrote she saw Santa’s reindeer outside, and she knew that his “reindeer want me to be good all year.”
But the story Kim told that tugged at my heartstrings was of a letter from a little boy who didn’t want any presents at all for Christmas.
“All I want is parents,” he wrote.
The youngster had lost his mother and father in a car accident and was living with foster parents.
“I didn’t know what to say to this little boy,” Kim told me, “so I contacted his foster parents.
“I talked with the foster mother and asked her if she knew what he had written, and she did.
“‘To tell you the truth,’ his foster mother told me, ‘his wish has already been answered. We have already adopted him, but we haven’t told him. We’re waiting until Christmas.’”
Kim said the individual replies from Santa to the little letter writers also include “a good-deed certificate, a high-five sticker from the elves, and a red bow that represents the men and women overseas who can’t be home for the holiday.”
And, she added, the letters don’t have to be from children, nor do they have to be for children.
“The letters can be for any age from infants on up,” she said.
“I even had a letter from an 81-year-old, and some people want their pet to get a letter from Santa.”
The Walkers invite anyone who wants to learn more about what they do to write them or call them at 610-1494.
And they’ll answer letters from anywhere in the world.
“We’ve had requests from China, Germany and from each state,” Kim said.
“We do this because we enjoy making smiles and memories.”
It all started years ago, when their children were young.
The Walkers did it for their kids, then their nieces and nephews and, pretty soon, the word got out and the requests kept coming.
Now, with their own children grown and gone, the Walkers are still at it.
“Everyone needs cheering up,” Kim said. “We like to give them something to chuckle about.”
So, if you want your child or a special someone to receive a reply from Santa Claus, send that request, with a return stamp, in care of Santa’s mailroom helpers in Mariaville.
Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; email@example.com; 990-8288.