PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- No one is exactly positive how Portland, Maine became the post office for the North Pole, but a team of volunteers is making sure every letter sent to Santa gets read and replied to.
The tradition of postal workers helping Santa started 100 years ago in New York City, and has spread to post office locations across the country.
In Maine, they've been giving jolly old Saint Nicholas a break for decades, according to Doris Poland. She says she pitched in the first time members from American Postal Workers Union Local #458 began responding to letters that wound up in their care.
"We've had some from Utah this year," said Poland. "We've had some from Illinois, New Mexico, Canada. They find there way, as Santa does."
While many of the letters ask for a specific toy, or dozens of them, others ask for nothing or seek answers to questions. While many are sweet and innocent like the children themselves, some are downright heartbreaking.
"We had one little one who didn't want anything but world peace," stated Poland.
Other letters ask Santa to make charitable donations in memory of lost siblings, or beg him to alleviate financial hardships placed on their parents.
"It definitely gives you the spirit of Christmas," Portland's Postmaster, David Guiney, explained. "A lot of emotions go into this, and the kids when they do write letters, it is so heartfelt and the honesty in these letters of a child is amazing and it makes you want to get back to them."
"We do everything we can to actually answer every single one of them," said Guiney.
He expects they will receive and reply to roughly 2,000 letters this year. He says they will even work to figure out an address if one is difficult to read or missing, but asks parents to remember to put a return address on their envelope if they would like to receive a reply.