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‘Operation Santa’ Seeing Influx Of Heart-Wrenching Letters From Sandy Victims

Volunteers Say It's Hard Reading Such Despair: 'We Cry Through Them, It's Terrible'
Operation Santa At Farley Post Office (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

Operation Santa At Farley Post Office (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

Superstorm Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Thousands upon thousands of ‘Dear Santa’ letters have already come into the James A. Farley Post Office on West 33rd Street as part of ‘Operation Santa.’

This year, many of the letters have come from Superstorm Sandy victims, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports

The letters are asking for basic necessities like food and blankets, the volunteers told Diamond.

“Santa, I don’t have much but I would love to give my children a nice Christmas,” read one letter.

“The gift that I ask of you if you can send me is winter boots size seven adult,” another letter said.

Volunteers Eileen Giordano and Nadia Bacchus have been reading and responding to hundreds of letters.

“I think this is an important year because so many people have had a tough time, so many people were affected by Hurricane Sandy and maybe need a little extra help, too,” another Secret Santa told Diamond.

“Also, Santa, I would love if you could send me some food,” another letter said.

The volunteers said there are the typical Christmas requests for items like iPods and PlayStations and ponies, but the letters this year are a bit more heart-wrenching than usual.

“And we cry through them, it’s terrible,” a volunteer told Diamond.

In some of the hardest-hit areas, kids said they will be writing to Santa this year but they won’t be asking for the latest toy or game.

“The water came in and it destroyed my porch and almost all my shoes. And the living room is done,” 11-year-old Gerritsen Beach resident Jenna Sachs told CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock. “I want my house back, that’s it.”

“Pretty much I just want a new room,” Broad Channel teen Brittany Mantz told Murdock.

Her home was inundated in the storm surge triggered by Sandy, leaving only the top floor livable.

“I’m not really asking for much because of the damage and stuff, but I want new clothes because I lost all my clothes,” Mantz told Murdock.

“Hurricane Sandy affected so many people and so many lives in our immediate area. These are people who normally would have come in and helped out with Santa. This year maybe they won’t. Now they might turn on the other side of the fence and then ask for help,” Operation Santa Claus Head Elf Pete Fontana told Murdock.

Among the letters stacked up at the main post office was one from 7-year-old “Heidi,” who included pictures of some toys she’d like but first asked for clothes and shoes because “Sandy left us with nothing.”

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Postal Service’s Letters to Santa program.

Secret Santas are needed and can adopt a letter at participating post offices and the main branch until Christmas Eve.

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