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WHAT BECOMES OF SANTA CLAUS LETTERS?
Every Missive Addressed to St. Nicholas Now Turned Over 8 to Santa Claus Association by the United States Postal Authorities—Pleas of Thirty Thousand Needy John Duval Gluck , founder of thm ~ Santa Claus Association. BY KATHLEEN READ. Manly Claus. North Pole. Dere Santy Claus: Please don't forget us Mke you did last year. In all my life Tommy and I have wanted roll skates and little Sue a doll what shuts her eyes. If you can’t bring all this, a sack of candy will do. 4 Your friend. JOEY. rHE busy post office clerk smiles as he glances at the envelope containing this letter. Then he tosses it Into a big yawning bag marked 8. C. A. One thing he knows: Joey will not watch this Christmas slip by as gutless and Joyless as the last one did. Times may be hard, but there will be a touch of Christmas festivity in Joey’s home. The Santa Claus Association will see to that. There was a day some 16 years ago when such letters as the above slipped into the mail box in childish faith and high expectation were a source of genuine heartache to post office offi cials and clerks. Each Yule tide they came fluttering in by the thousands, sometimes be grimed and finger marked and bearing varied addresses: Santa Claus—North Pole —Ice Land —Cloud Land—Toy World—Golden Gate- Heaven. And each little missive meant another addition to the dead letter office and another stamp of oblivion—unclaimed. In all of the meticulous United States Postal System there was no forwarding address available for mail directed to good old St. Nick. Today the Santa Claus Association, cele brating its fifteenth anniversary, is proving to each little letter-writer that Santa Claus is a regular guy who receives his letters in proper fashion and answers them in the most approved manner. The Santa Claus Association was instituted at an earlier date, but it was not incorporated under the membership laws of the State of New York until 1915. It is the only charity of its kind in the world. It is the first charity to cause investigations to * be made under the "Gluck class system”; that is, to investigate the poor by the medium of volunteer workers who are in the same station at life. It is non-sectarian and non-racial. The Santa Claus Association does not permit its name to appear on any shipping labels issued to donors. It permits no public drives for money. It is open to the public, to whom it affords an opportunity once a year to play Santa Claus direct and to know every dollar it expends is used for the purpose for which it is raised. It is the only organized charity that puts the donor in direct touch with the recipient. 'T'HIS is how the wheels go round in the Santa Claus Association headquarters: The Postal Department is authorised by Uncle Sam to turn over to the Santa Claus Association every letter sent to Santa by what ever name or to whatever address. Upon re ceipt of the letters an investigation is made. The investigation is to make sure that the home is one which might otherwise be overlooked by r St. Nick. When the record is complete it is • attached to the letter and sent to a donor who has signified his desire to play Santa to some needy home. Thousands of men and women * find joy each Christmas in making the wish of a little child come true. There are some donors who cannot do the shopping themselves • and send money instead. The Shopping Com mittee of the S. C. A. takes charge of these cases, but wherever it is possible the donor is urged to assume the entire responsibility of the Santa Claus role and thereby glean the com plete satisfaction and joy involved in the act of giving Last year more than 10,000 donors came for ward to claim Santa Claus letters from the New York City post offloes. A large number of the donors are business men, whom the association calls the best charity experts. In some cases food, clothes, rent and even personal visits are among the surprises in store for the youngster who penned the momentous letter informing Santa of his existence. The donor plays the . Santa Claus role exactly as he chooses, and that’s the joy of the 8. C. A. system! A great many donors take interest in the family after the passing of the holidays and many interesting stories are recorded in head quarters annals. In one case thousands as THE SUNDAY STAR, WASHINGTON', D. C., DECEMBER 21, 1930. * jjijj BBBP ■. Waiting to give the postman a letter to Kriss K ringle, telling him all about the doll she wishes for Christmas. dollars were spent on a single family; in an other 500 children were taken care of by a childless donor. Sixty thousand letters were turned over to the association last year. Many of these letters bore requests for clothes, food and coal instead of toys. “Toys are mighty nice, Santa, but it’s awful to be cold,” wrote one little girl. This year many more letters asking for the stark necessities of life will come in. Tor even joyous childhood is wont to forget the things of play when the body is cold and stomach empty Jr \JjSfe. xBBI Wk jr Ji fek Whonawr these busy postal clerks come upon a letter addressed to St. Aficfc J&ey toss it in a special pouch, which is forwarded to the Santa Claus Association. And the S. C. A. will do Its best to see they get these things, but t toy will go along also, for the association believes fervently that toys keep fresh the illusions of childhood and give reality to childish dreams. The Santa Claus Association of the United States and Canada was formerly directed through the New York City headquarters. The organization is now decentralized, the associa tions in various cities being related but inde pendent units. The parent Santa Claus Asso ciation in New York City, which has been a model for others throughout two countries, took root 20 years ago. Its purpose is to make gifts to toyless, joyless children, and for many years was one of the largest alms-giving organi zations in the world. 'J'HK story of the origin of the association is an old one, but, like the Christmas story, will bear repetition. The Santa Claus Asso ciation’s destiny was fixed when John Gluck was bom one Christmas Day less than 50 years ago. Johnny soon began to feel that > this dual birthday with Christmas was a left t handed compliment of fate. No one thought of Johnny Gluck’s day in the greater ptepara tions for Christmas Day. Birthday candles and Christmas candles were all the same in Johnny's home. He grew up wondering if his day would 1 ever be rescued from the Christmas halo. John Gluck developed into a successful business man. He was not marriage-minded, but dls > tinctly charity-minded. Each Christmas found him poking around finding boys and girls whose homes would be destitute of Christmas festivi ties and playings. Finally, there came a Christmas Eve which in the light of the chain of events which fol lowed was an important one. He was on his way home when he came across a small boy fjl SrPi '■wj tiptoeing to slip * grimy envelope into the postbox. As Gluck stepped forward to help him his eyes lighted on the address scrawled on the letter. “Mister San tie Claus, North Pole.” The man waylaid the posting of the letter by the words: “Santa Claus is a personal friend of mine; if you give me the letter I will see that he gets it.” As John Gluck turned back toward the shop-* ping district for new purchases, a shadow fell across his contentment. This little fellow would be taken care of —he would know the thrill of an answer to his letter —but what about that long line of kiddles that stretched from ocean to ocean who had confidently mailed letters to Santa Claus. An inquiry at the poet office the next day revealed that each year thousands of children’s letters to Santa found the only official channel available—the dead letter office. Thousands of childish dead letters representing thousands of dead childish hopes! The man who never had a birthday of his very own then and there conceived the Idea of the Santa Claus Association. He confided the idea to a few of his bachelor friends and to friends of their friends, and the Idea began to roll up like a huge Christmas snowball. Vincent As tor donated an enormous office room for the Christmas headquarters. It was not long before the entire Nation and its neighbor, Canada, became Interested in this unique Christmas organization. The donor friends of John Gluck In New York grew into thousands. Children’s letters which had gone through the mails were read over the radio. Donors popped up like mushrooms from all over the continent. The war came and the Santa Claus Association was swamped with re quests. its volunteer forces stretched In im« ending* lines. Children from other countries, hearing of this benevolent American Santa Claus, sent pitiful little requests addressed to “Santa Claus, America, United States.” And sometimes the association found a donor who accepted an overseas charge. An article in the Santa Claus Annual, pub lished each year by the association, states: "No center of population is too small or no city too large to organize or operate a Santa Claus Association. Under our decentralized system each community elects its own officers and handles its own funds. We never try to freeze out another Christmas charity,' but co operate instead. The kiddles’ Christmas is far more important than promoting the welfare' of this association. We are not the Inventors of Christmas. We have only one program, the poor little kiddles. They are not beggars any more than the rich child and are entitled ts a bit of festivity at this glad season.” DOT to go back to the man whose birthday celebration has surpassed his wildest dreams. John Duval Gluck has a rich Inheritance of charity-minded ancestors. His grandfather, Johann Baptiste von Gluck, as a young dtoftttaaed on Eleventh Page 3