About 20 years ago, a candy cane-striped mailbox was established in Collingdale outside Borough Hall by the Collingdale Business and Professional Association (CBPA).
The purpose of the mailbox was to give children the opportunity to communicate with Santa Claus and receive a return letter in response, said the CBPA’s current president, Ed Corbett.
Corbett said a former member found an old mailbox and painted it with red and white candy cane stripes and the traditional endures. The box, that only appears during the holiday season, sits near the corner of MacDade Blvd. and Clifton ave. with a sign inviting people to deposit their letters. Corbett said the sign has been replaced twice since then.
“Anyone who drops a letter in gets a response,” Corbett said.
Corbett, in his “other capacity” as Santa’s helper, empties the mailbox and CBPA members Pat Felker, Marie Dolan and Edith Corbett read and respond to them.
“We used to get 150 to 200 letters,” Edith said. “The number has dropped recently.”
She attributes the decrease to the fact that many kids text more than write. This year, only 35 letters have been received in the mailbox.
“I don’t think kids write as much anymore,” she said. “If they could text Santa, we might get more.”
The box appears every year on the weekend after Thanksgiving, and it stays up until Christmas, Corbett said.
When children write their letters, they usually provide a list of items they want for Christmas, but they are not guaranteed any presents to begin with, he said. Some daycares submit letters, too.
“We make sure they get responses,” Corbett said. “We send them a pre-formed letter signed by Santa.”
An example of a response includes a “thank you” for sending the letter to Santa. In Santa’s voice, Corbett, Felker and Dolan respond that he and his elves have been busy this year, and “Mrs. Claus just finished sewing the new buttons on my red shirt.”