Each year, hundreds of young Kirkland residents write letters to Santa and drop them in Santa’s North Pole Mailbox that is located in downtown Kirkland. And each year Santa (well… many of Santa’s helpers) respond with return letters. Nope… it’s not via text, email, or any type of social media. It’s actual old-school letter writing with envelopes and stamps.
This Kirkland holiday tradition was started when a local community member made a creative suggestion to the Kirkland Downtown Association. The program was then easily supported and then adopted by the Kirkland City Council and all it took were some really cute photos of the holiday-themed mailbox. The first mailbox was red with green and white trim. With the City’s approval and support the Downtown Kirkland Association put the program into action and recruited tons of volunteers to help with letter writing. Several years later the Kirkland Parks and Community Foundation joined as a strategic partner to help raise all the funds to cover the cost of stamps and stationery.
The first year was a huge success with almost 200 letters submitted by eager children and 200 responses returned by Santa’s helpers. Children drew pictures and asked for a wide variety of popular toys. Sometimes, children asked for world peace or happiness for others. Occasionally, children asked for food or warm coats. Those were tough letters for volunteers to read but, the Kirkland Downtown Association worked with local grocery stores which stepped up to help with those requests in the lean years of economic downturn.
Last year, more than 1,500 responses were written to children who placed letters in the Mailbox. Volunteers are always careful not to promise anything, although they try to tailor each response to what the child has written. Volunteers from Merrill Gardens in downtown Kirkland have been especially generous with their time over the years, as writing hundreds of responses is required to keep this program alive.
This is a truly loved community activity that is coordinated by the Kirkland Downtown Association (KDA). The KDA is grateful for all the Board members and volunteers who have hosted pizza parties, served hot chocolate and made writing Santa letters a fun event for everyone involved. To join the volunteer team, visit KDA’s Santa’s Mailbox registration page.
If you have a little person in your life, who would like to write to the big guy in the North Pole, Santa’s Mailbox can be found on the corner of Lake Street and Kirkland Avenue next to Bank of America. Please make sure your letters have a return address and are in Santa’s Mailbox on or before December 21st.
Your donations to the Santa’s Mailbox will put a lot of smiles on young Kirkland faces!
We hope the Santa’s Mailbox program will leave children with a fond memory of childhood, of growing up in Kirkland, sprinkled with a little holiday magic.