Dear Santa ...
As Santa puts last-minute finishing touches on the toys, prepares the reindeer for flight and looks at his list to see who's been naughty or nice, Santa's elves in Reynoldsburg have an important job as well.
The Parks and Recreation Department is collecting letters written by children and delivering them personally to Santa.
Serving as elves for the holiday, the staff has placed a mailbox in front of city hall that reads "Santa's Post Office," where Reynoldsburg boys and girls can write their Christmas wishes down and stick them in the mailbox.
The staff then forwards the letters to Santa, who responds to each and every letter.
On average, 90 to 125 letters are answered each year, said Donna Bauman, secretary with the parks and recreation department.
Popular requests in years past have included puppies and the Wii video game console.
"I did receive a letter asking for a horse and a new Mercedes-Benz," Bauman said.
Though the elves can't promise the gifts that children request, Bauman and Santa's elves make an effort to make sure each child receives a letter in return from Santa.
"Letters are answered the same day they are received," she said.
With 20 different letter styles, Santa is able to make sure siblings receive different letters.
"My favorite letters are from children just learning how to spell and write," she said. "You can tell that they have put a lot of effort into making the letters just right and if you take the time, you can figure out what they are asking for."
Bauman said she looks forward to checking Santa's mailbox for letters and is disappointed when it is empty.
"When reading the letters I find that they make me smile that the spirit of Christmas is alive and that these children still believe in Santa," Bauman said.
The deadline to submit a letter this year is Dec. 22. When Bauman returns to work Dec. 26, she said if someone has left a letter, she will make sure Santa sends a different letter asking if the child had a wonderful Christmas.
Santa's mailbox is located on the front steps of Reynoldsburg City Hall, 7232 E. Main St. Letters also can be mailed to Parks and Recreation Department, 7232 E. Main St., Reynoldsburg, OH 43068.
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