With Christmas just around the corner, Albert Esquivel is putting in extra time on the job. Esquivel, postmaster for the United States Postal Service’s Lee’s Summit locations, is spending extra duty answering hundreds of letters from area youth addressed to Santa Claus. In true St. Nick fashion, Esquivel was adamant about not making a big deal about reading every single letter and answering each, but the father of five was gracious enough to take time to talk with the Journal about what really happens to those letters from children and young adults addressed to Kriss Kringle.
The Journal: How long have you been on the job?
Esquivel: Four years.
Journal: Have you been answering letters to Santa for four years?
Journal: This time of the year, Santa gets a lot of different requests. Talk about the process of answering each letter.
Esquivel: The Post Office has a national Operation Santa program. Letters can be responded to on a national level. Here, locally, I just handle it locally as the postmaster for Lee’s Summit. If I have a name and a return address, then the letters get responded to.
Journal: How is it playing the role of Santa Claus in responding to the letters?
Esquivel: It’s a good feeling. There are other volunteers that help throughout the city also – letter carriers join in to help make sure the letters get responded to. We try to return letters to a child so that they can open a piece of mail that at least has their name on it.
Journal: Have you ever read any ‘Dear Santa’ letters that have kind of touched home a bit?
Esquivel: Every year there are some special ones that come through. You just say a prayer for them and you get a response back to them that hopefully gives them so hope and some cheer.
Journal: Do you ever get any outrageous requests?
Esquivel: Hmmm, not too often. Just normal kids things – iPad, iPhones, dolls; different kinds of things. I make no promises to kids that they are going to get something and put their parents in a bind. I tell them to keep listening to their parents and their teachers to be good and keep up with the holiday cheer. We respond to about 100, 150 letters.
Journal: Do you have to take time out of the course of your day to do this or is this a part of your job?
Esquivel: Each post office handles it differently and each postmaster handles it differently. My dad was a postmaster in a small town, so it was just one of those things that he pressed upon me. If there is something you need to do to help your community, then give back.