Fill Letters to Santa from the Post Office

The best holiday stress reliever I found, was engaging the whole family in Christmas for others. I went to local Post Offices and asked for any Dear Santa letters, and they were very happy to let me take some. My kids and I spent a lot of time filling those lists as well as we were able. My boys learned it's not about what you get, it's about what you give.


We are not poor, but we're a long way from wealthy. We hunted thrift stores, flea markets, discount stores, etc. We even asked friends and relatives to help out with gifts. My kids, who often thought they were so deprived, learned that there is always someone who is in a worse place than they are. And with that, they learned to be grateful for what they received.

By Peg from Smithton, PA

September 30, 20080 found this helpful

That is a great idea! I want to do that with my children too. Thank you for sharing.

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September 30, 20080 found this helpful

A big pat on the back to you! That is really awesome!

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Anonymous Flag
September 30, 20080 found this helpful

What a wonderful thing to do! Bless you and your family!

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September 30, 20080 found this helpful

What a wonderful idea!! This will certainly be my project for this year. Thanks for sharing your idea. It is more blessed to give than to receive.

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September 30, 20080 found this helpful

Dear Peg,

God Bless you and your family. This has made my day to hear about such kindness!!

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October 1, 20080 found this helpful

Another great way to teach kids about giving is to participate in the Samaritan's Purse "Operation Christmas Child". Anyone can do it but note that this is a Christian organization and religious materials are sent to the children and their families also. Website is

"Operation Christmas Child brings joy and hope to children in desperate situations around the world through gift-filled shoe boxes and the Good News of Gods love. Since 1993, more than 61 million shoe boxes have been packed, shipped, and delivered across the globe. People of all ages can be involved in this simple, hands-on missions project while focusing on the true meaning of ChristmasJesus Christ.

National Collection Week is November 17-24.

Filling a SHOE BOX


Click to download from website.

Use an empty shoe box (standard size, please) or a small plastic container. You can wrap the box (lid separately), but wrapping is not required. Most importantly, pray for the child who will receive your gift.


Determine whether your gift will be for a boy or a girl, and the childs age category: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. Print out the appropriate boy/girl label shown above. Mark the correct age category on the label, and tape the label to the top of your box.


Fill the box with a variety of gifts that will bring delight to a child. Use the gift ideas provided on the bottom of this page.


Please donate $7 or more for each shoe box you prepare to help cover shipping and other project costs. You can give online by using our EZGIVE option, or you can write a check to Samaritans Purse (note OCC on memo line) and place it in an envelope on top of the gift items inside your box. If you or your family are preparing more than one shoe box, please make one combined donation.


Place a rubber band around each closed shoe box and drop off at the Collection Center nearest you during our collection week November 17 - 24.

For locations and hours of collection visit our Drop-Off Locations page where you can find the nearest place to take your shoe box by entering your ZIP Code or you can call 1-800-353-5949."

I've used this with foster kids and have continued to do it since then. It has become a holiday tradition. Even in lean times, or when my work schedule is so crazy in Nov/Dec (working retail) that I don't take time to put up a tree, it is easy to find enough little items to quickly and easily fill a shoe box. Besides, like all my Christmas shopping, I start early in the year getting many of my things at Dollar Tree, and also new items I find at thrifts and Gabriel Brothers throughout the year. OCC gives a list of items to not include, such as toy guns, liquids, etc., so be aware of that. Your child can choose to do a child their same age and sex so it's easy for them to relate and choose gifts. It's a fun family project, too, and you can include notes for the recipient inside the box.

Also check in your local stores and offices for "angel trees". These are children who are usually pre-screened and known to be needy. I worked with a "Santa's helper" group a few times many years ago and I can tell you it was a such a heartwarming, joyful experience. Our group worked with local schools to find the kids who likely wouldn't get much or anything at Christmas, as well as some of the local children's homes and foster groups. I created computer databases of children (assigned numbers to keep confidentiality), age, sex, sizes, requests, so we could sort by family, etc. Tags were put on angel trees at local shops, banks and medical offices and even (shocker) the post office! Donations were requested and received from several businesses and groups like The Moose and Eagles. (The lady in charge kept a very low profile and would accept no recognition for her efforts but had been doing it for several years and had built a good reputation with businesses, so getting donations was not usually difficult.) The week after pickup, we used the donated money to purchase gifts for those who had not been chosen. (That was my job usually and I LOVED doing the shopping. What a challenge!! One year I had $700 to spread among 47 kids!) We partnered with a group of UPS drivers who dressed in Santa suits and made the deliveries, donating their time.

Sorry this is so long!! Hope it adds to your holiday traditions!

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October 2, 20080 found this helpful

Great idea! I didn't know you could do that! I always go to the local mall here in Salem OR, and browse the Giving Tree. I take the tags of those I know I can fill, and that always helps out others...and me.

I go to the thrift shops and buy old afghans and blankets, and give them to the local shelters. My friend couldn't use 250 lbs of beans for her pickling company, so she drove them down to food share.

There are always things we can all do.

What was it Garth Brooks sang in his song he wrote after the OK City Bombings..."it's not the world that I am changing. I do this so, the world will know, it will not change me".

For most of us, it's just a couple of paychecks between us and a stone pillow. I live on very little, but every night, I am sheltered, fed, warm, and have creature comforts that others don't.

Like my name says I am "poor but proud".

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