(Dec. 7, 2018) Children can receive a special letter from the North Pole this holiday season by bringing their wish lists, with a legible return address, for Santa in the antique mailbox located in the Ocean City post office on 71st Street.
Pam Hammond, a longtime clerk at the post office, has been working there for 29 years and this marks her seventh Christmas season responding to letters as Santa Claus.
“I’ve got a soft spot for kids. I’ve got six grandkids myself, all 10 and under,” Hammond said. “[Children] expect so much out of grownups and so many times we let them down. Santa can’t let them down.
“All kids that write the letters assume Santa gets them,” she continued. “But to receive a letter back, of any sort, it’s special, but for them to receive a letter from Santa is just exciting and kind of magical. It gives them a little hope.”
With Christmas almost two weeks away, approximately 20 letters have been collected already, Hammond said. She responded to about 45 letters in 2017 and has kept every letter sent the last seven years.
“I don’t promise them anything in the letters except that I know they’ll be happy for Christmas and their families are very special to them and they’re very special to their families and to have a wonderful time through the season,” Hammond said. “I think it’s a lot of fun for them to get them … it’s a lot of fun for me to do them.”
Figuring out the ages of children is important and Hammond credits being a grandma for helping her.
“I kind of have to look at what my grandkids are asking for to know what the popular things are,” she said. “Legos are always a big hit and Nerf Guns are always a big hit as well. Then for little girls, whatever the latest doll, Barbie or whatever the latest cartoon is, and I’ll see a trend there.”
Hammond has received letters from at least a dozen children who have written Santa the past couple years. She always keeps previous letters in order to mention what they wrote about or asked for in the past.
If a child drew a picture or their handwriting improves, Hammond will reference these points. Her letters are written on special paper and Santa signs in a red marker. In addition, the reply letters are given the same holiday rubber stamp on the back of each envelope, which Hammond received from a child a few years ago.
The Dunes Manor Hotel on 28th Street has been providing children with special paper and collecting Santa wish lists for the post office again this year.
Hammond recommends letters be sent no later than one week before Christmas in order to receive a letter in time for the holiday. Letters written by area residents can expect a letter back within one or two days.
Letters should be placed in the special mailbox at the 71st Street post office. Letters for Santa dropped in the blue mailboxes around town may not make it to the post office in Ocean City, and must have a return address for a response. The 100-year-old antique mailbox was once on the street and is now decoratively painted for North Pole-bound requests.
“Parents lose the real reason behind Christmas for kids and it became so commercialized,” Hammond said. “It’s such an important time to draw families together and to give kids a little bit of the spirit, just letting them be kids and paying attention to the things that they do want and need and that’s mostly our attention and time. Our time more than anything means so much to these kids and we get so busy we lose track of that.”