A mail carrier in Pennsylvania takes on a second title during the holiday season: Santa’s helper.
The Bloomsburg post office collects local children’s letters to Santa in a special box each year.
Melissa Stinsman, 26, who works at the post office, loves spending her free time carefully answering as many letters as possible.
Wading through lists of toys and electronics, Stinsman tries to give advice and encouragement through her letters.
“I usually tell the kids to keep up their grades and to listen to their parents,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle. “One asked for a science kit so I told him that one day, he could become a scientist.”
One letter in particular caught her eye this year, however.
A 9-year-old boy listed eight items he wanted for Christmas. He also including a note at the bottom that read, “Dear Santa, I am going to star the top 3 items I really want!”
Among those starred items were two heartbreaking wishes: food and clothes for the young boy’s family.
The envelope that including the list also included a list from his 5-year-old brother and a handwritten note that pleaded for Santa to grant his wish list.
“Dear Santa, last year you didn’t notice me, so I hope this year you notice me, and this year I will be good. I pinkie promise …” the boy wrote in the second letter.
Stinsman told Yahoo Lifestyle she cried after she read the letters and knew she wanted to help, but the letter didn’t have a return address.
Thankfully the boy did include his full name, so after asking some of her colleagues if they recognized the last name, she eventually tracked down the family in need.
When she knocked on the door, the boy’s mother answered.
“She came out and I told her, ‘This is going to sound really strange, but I work at the post office and I would like to help your family this year.’ And we just stood and cried in the rain,” Stinsman told WNEP.
Stinsman rallied the community and raised around $500 for the family as well as food, toy and clothing donations, she told Yahoo Lifestyle.
She gave the family gift cards to a local grocery store ahead of Christmas so they could prepare for a meal ahead of time. She planned to drop off the other donated items on Christmas Eve.
“I hope the kids will be distracted when I come,” she said. “I want them to believe they came from Santa.”
While many are commending Stinsman on her generosity, she said the gift of giving has made her “overwhelmed with joy.”
“I mean it literally has me to the moon and back, overwhelmed with just joy,” she told WNEP. “It feels really good to finally be in a position in my life where I can give back to somebody else.”
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