"Dear Santa Claus
I want a toy gun and transformers toy tha only I does what I say. I want video game of Sonic X. Please Santa bring my little sister a doll that cries and my sister would like to get a shirt and matching pants.
Thank you Santa Claus: I'm super excited this christmas.
Sebastian & Samantha"
Scrawled on extra wide spaced gradeschool paper, the above letter was mailed to "Santa Clause, North Pole". It came into my possession as part of a charity drive my company is participating in for the holidays.
As you may be aware, the post office receives tons of these letters every year. And as you also may be aware, they are not delivered because (spoiler alert!) Santa Claus does not exist. Apparently the postal rules of privacy do not apply to pretend people, and so it was that a couple of my coworkers spent an afternoon sifting through Santa's mail and picking out some letters for us all to answer.
I chose this letter because I was charmed that the child wants a robot minion, and because he was sweet enough to include his sister in his Christmas wish list. I'm not quite sure if he wanted her to get a doll that cries because she wants one or because he wants to annoy her, but either way I feel it is my duty to support him.
Some of the letters, samples of which are up for display on BeAnElf.org, are more heartbreaking than charming. Amy writes that she doesn't want anything for Christmas, but her brother "needs a pair of new shoes real bad". Marcel hopes he's not asking for too much, but wonders if perhaps Santa didn't make it to his house last year?
The decentralized nature of BeAnElf really appeals to me. There is no question how much of your donation gets sucked dry by bureaucracy. They use the term "micro-philanthropy" which I think is quite apt. It's simple, small and direct -- something easy for anyone to participate in.