KTUU: Santa’s elves get support from congressional delegation

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A rallying cry came across the country for North Pole, Alaska.

People are outraged at the United States Postal Service’s decision to end a popular program that has local nonprofits answer letters to Santa, and Alaska's congressional delegation is urging the Postal Service to review it new policies.

When UAF journalism students produced a documentary on the popular decades-old Santa's Helper program in North Pole, they didn’t realize it might be one of the last years for the program.

The program has local nonprofits respond to thousands of letters addressed to Santa, a practice that dates back to 1954.

Post offices across the country have followed suit, including in Chicago. But this week the Postal Service announced it wouldn't allow the program to continue, because in one state a registered sex offender was discovered volunteering to answer letters.

“The idea is to keep kids safe and protect their privacy,” said Mark Reynolds, with the U.S. Postal Service in Chicago.

In another change, letters from North Pole will no longer get a North Pole postmark in North Pole, but instead in Anchorage.

Across Alaska and the country, Americans have been expressing their anger with the new policies. Thursday Alaska's congressional delegation urged the Postal Service to review its decisions.

"We are especially disappointed to learn that no one in these communities were informed about these changes before they were finalized," said Sen. Mark Begich and Rep. Don Young in a joint letter.

"May we suggest you work with the local communities to find a way to both protect children's privacy and ensure their letters to Santa will be answered?" they said.

"I know Alaskans are happy to work within any guidelines that the USPS wishes to implement for child safety," Sen. Lisa Murkowski said.

# # #

Source: By Megan Baldino. Originally broadcast by KTUU on November 19, 2009