Just call them Santa’s little helpers.
Over the past 10 years a New York couple have responded to over 2 000 letters from children addressed to Father Christmas after they were mysteriously delivered to their Manhattan apartment.
When they moved into their flat, Dylan Parker (39) and Jim Glaub (40) were warned by the outgoing tenants that the Santa letters had been arriving at the address for years.
“But they said ‘only a couple’ had arrived, but they said, ‘Just so you know – it happens’,” Jim recalls.
However, the “couple” soon became hundreds. “In October 2010, we got one letter, then a couple more. By the end of November, we were at hundreds. In December it was over 400 – it was quite alarming,” Jim says.
They soon became overwhelmed by the mountain of envelopes – to the point where they even fell out with their local postman because there were just too many letters to fit into their mailbox. However, the couple felt compelled to open a few letters, hoping they could see where they came from.
What they found wasn’t demands for toys and treats but heart-breaking requests from children in need asking for blankets, shoes and food with tear-jerking tales of how their families couldn't afford Christmas Day festivities.
“Please don’t worry about me this year. I just want my brother to have a good Christmas. Our mom is not in our life. Our grandfather is raising us the best he can,” one letter read.
“My brother is taking things the hardest. Last year we ate at a soup kitchen. Please, Santa, not this year too,” another read.
Dylan and Jim say they had no choice but to answer the letters and began asking family, friends and social media strangers to help.
“We threw a 1960s vintage holiday party and what ended up happening is that people saw a big stack of letters in the front of the room. I told them the story and organically, people said, ‘I'll take a letter! I'll take a letter!’. It just sort of snapped, and I thought, ‘Oh, we’re going to get people to fulfil these. People wanted to help’,” Jim explained.
They then decided to set up a not-for-profit organisation called Miracle on 22nd Street (where their apartment is) to help fulfil Christmas wishes, and asked friends and family to help respond to the children.
Miracle on 22nd Street is now estimated to have responded to 2 000 letters over the past 10 years, and Jim says they are now looking at launching the project in the UK.
“We lived in the UK for two years and were so thrilled by the outpouring of support from people in the UK. We have a lot of families that have come out and said we could use a little miracle too so hopefully soon we will be crossing the pond,” Jim adds.
They still have no idea why the letters are sent to that Manhattan apartment. Sadly, Jim and Dylan have divorced and a new tenant is in their flat now – but the letters keep coming.
“We didn’t ask for any of this,” Jim says. “We’re just trying to keep going as best as we can.”
SOURCES: DAILYMAIL.CO.UK, PEOPLE.COM, METRO.CO.UK, MIRACLEON22NDSTREET