Kids love Santa Claus, but not every kid gets to sit on Santa's lap, so they write letters instead.
And some children ask for more than just toys, and their wishes aren't always for themselves. Santa, however, is pretty busy this time of the year to answer all the letters sent to him.
To help answer some of the letters, workers at the main post office in New York City launched "Operation Santa Claus." But after some time had passed, they started getting too many letters. This year, they expect 300,000 notes.
"Operation Santa Claus" depends on the public to help get the letters answered.
Sharon Glassman puts together "Love, Santa" parties where people dig through stacks of letters to fulfill a child's wish for Christmas.
"I think it's a really great thing -- looking at these letters and reading them," partygoer Courtney Kramer says. "Some of them are really difficult [to read] and it makes me wish I could take them all, actually, and give everyone everything they want."
The Early Show Correspondent Melinda Murphy decided to answer three letters to Santa – courtesy of The Early Show and CBS. She picked up the letters at the post office with Sharon Glassman's guidance.
"I say that there's going to be a letter that will sing to you," Glassman told Murphy. "What I mean is that there's something in that letter that's going to hit your heart in a way. And you're going to say 'I can do this. I can make this kid's Christmas [wish] come true.'"
Some of the letters had pictures of exactly what the children wanted, and others asked for presents for family members. But, it didn't take long for Murphy to find the letters she wanted to answer.
One of the letters read: "We need your help with necessary things for the winter: a medium coat, shoes, pants and toys."
After reading the letters, Murphy shopped for the clothes, toys and even food that were requested. Next, with the help of her producer and associate producer, they wrapped the gifts and mailed most to the senders of the letters. But, Murphy did deliver one family's Christmas gift in person.
Seven-year-old Kelvin Almonte and his 12-year-old sister Cynthia were stunned to see Murphy dressed as an elf with a present he had requested. Murphy handed Cynthia a coat, which put a smile on the faces of the entire Almonte family.
But in the end, Murphy says, she and her crew may have gotten just as much out of the deed as the Almontes did – maybe more.
To get "Dear Santa" letters from the U.S. post office, call the toll free number, 1-877-840-0459.
Copyright 2003 CBS. All rights reserved.