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Making Christmas Mail Special

Santa Claus mail
AP
If you'd like add a little extra something to your holiday cards and letters, the Postal Service can help, but the time to act is now, reports CBSNews.com's Lloyd de Vries.

There are nearly 100 post offices in the U.S. with Christmas-y names that will re-mail your letters for you, with a special postmark.

"There a Bethlehem, Georgia, Christmas, Florida, Nazareth, Pa., even a North Pole, Alaska, and a Santa Claus, Indiana," said USPS spokesman Mark Saunders, but those post offices need to receive your cards and letters by Dec. 15.

The re-mailing service is free.

"There's no charge at all for that, Saunders said. "All you need to do is put your stamped, addressed greeting cards in large envelope or box, label it 'Holiday Greeting Card Re-Mailing,' and place sufficient first class postage on the envelope or box to cover the cost of mailing."

There's a list of these post offices on the Postal Service's Web site, www.usps.com.

You can also re-mail Santa's reply to your child from the North Pole that way, Saunders told CBSNews.com, but please — no extras.

"While Santa Claus loves cookies, and his reindeer love hay, please don't put that inside the envelope, because it can gum up the Postal Service's mail sorting equipment, and it might cause a delay of getting that letter to Santa," he said.

Saunders also suggests parent have someone else write out the reply, so their children won't recognize the handwriting.

Each year, the New York City post office goes a step further, gathering the letters needy children write to Santa Claus and distributing them to volunteers who will answer the children and perhaps grant some of their Christmas wishes.

"Dear Santa, my name is Jessica. I am 7 years old," reads one letter from Jessica in Harlem. "I'm writing to you because I live with my grandma and my mother is in prison. My grandma doesn't have enough money to buy me what I need."

Another letter came from a mother in a domestic violence shelter in Brooklyn, seeking help to provide a pleasant Christmas for her three children, ages 14, 9, and 3.

Last year, Operation Santa Claus received 200,000 letters. The letters are divided into geographic locations and put on display in the city's main post office lobby. Volunteers can also call toll-free 1-877-840-0459 during business hours.

"These letters reaffirm the magic of belief, the generosity of volunteers who respond to Santa letters, and the unique ability of the Postal Service to bring people together through correspondence. Operation Santa Claus is a tradition," said New York postmaster Vinnie Malloy.

By Lloyd A. de Vries