I have a holiday confession. I am one of Santa’s helpers. I guess you could call me an elf, of sorts. Not a Scout Elf, like an Elf on the Shelf, (I’m not nearly that cool… or creepy) but more of a, let’s say, Communications Elf. I’m in charge of routing Huntsville’s letters to and from Santa.
This important position wasn’t listed in my job description when I began working as a newspaper reporter in 2001, but imagine my surprise when on the Monday following Thanksgiving I discovered that my office mailbox was brimming with children’s letters to Santa.
I assumed that our mailman had already been hitting the eggnog, but my editor assured me that this special delivery was no mistake. It was our duty, he explained, and had been for decades, to typeset each of these letters just as they were written to publish in the Christmas edition of the newspaper and, afterward, forward each one on to the North Pole. Per Santa’s request, he said, to share a little Christmas magic with our readers.
And so it went for my six Christmases working at the newspaper. I couldn’t wait each year to see what the kids had requested (a real spaceship), the pictures they had drawn for Santa (a can of Slimfast, for obvious reasons), the promises they had made if Santa would just grant their Christmas wish (I will never lick my sister again!). Deciphering the young handwriting and typesetting those letters became my absolute favorite part of the Christmas season.
I thought my days of helping Santa had come to an end when I made a career change. Working at United Cerebral Palsy of Huntsville of Huntsville & Tennessee Valley, Inc. (UCP Huntsville) was surely a wonderful opportunity for numerous reasons, but I was secretly a little sad to no longer be an honorary elf.
However, that Jolly Old Elf still had plans for me. UCP Huntsville also has a direct connection to the North Pole! Many years ago, my director informed me, Santa enlisted the help of UCP to help him respond to all of those Christmas wishes and, in return, he helps UCP raise money to support services for the local individuals and families we serve.
How Letters From Santa Works
Each personalized letter we write on behalf of Santa includes acknowledgement of a recent accomplishment (being a good big brother/sister, always trying your best in school, going pee-pee in the potty) and mention of a gift (surprises, a sparkly ornament for the tree, a doll with a tutu) your special someone will definitely be receiving for Christmas.
Then we forward each letter to the North Pole to be hand-signed by Santa himself. We also make sure each letter includes a packet of magic reindeer food to sprinkle on the lawn on Christmas Eve.
How to Participate in Letters From Santa
If you would like to surprise a child with a personalized letter from Santa Claus, let me assure you that Santa’s self-proclaimed #1 Communication Elf is anxiously awaiting your request.
- Deadline for submissions is Wednesday, December 11, 2020 to make sure all letters reach homes before Christmas Eve. Santa’s UCP elves will begin mailing letters on or before Dec. 14. Fill out the form online HERE.
- Letters are $5 each and can be submitted online to UCP Huntsville. To ensure accuracy, Santa’s UCP elves unfortunately cannot accept submissions by phone.
- All proceeds benefit UCP Huntsville client services. For more details, visit ucphuntsville.org, call 256-859-4900, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Tracy Cieniewicz and her husband, John, are parents to an amazing little girl, Delaney. Tracy is a Madison County native, Hazel Green High School and University of North Alabama alum, and former newspaper journalist. She has worked in fundraising and event management at UCP of Huntsville since 2007. She loves the beach, stormy nights, fresh fruit, warm towels, fall weather, and the UA fight song.