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Operation Santa kicks off at post offices

November 30, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Every year during the holiday season, children across the country send their Christmas letters to Santa Claus.

His helpers in Southern California are hard at work trying to answer all of them. There are the usual requests for video games and toys, but there are also wishes that are so touching, that granting them literally changes lives.

When you see a man carrying a mail bag and wearing a Santa suit stamped with the letters USPS, you know Operation Santa is set to kick off.

People at post offices around the country are feverishly reading through millions of Dear Santa letters, picking out the ones where the wants truly need to be met.

Shamaya Miles was born deaf without a left ear and her right ear was deformed. But last year, her mother got wind of Operation Santa.

"I asked Santa Claus to give my baby her ears. All she wanted for Christmas was her ears," said Mya Worthy.

The folks at the post office tracked down plastic surgeon Dr. Sheryl Lewin. Two surgeries later, the 8-year-old girl now has two beautiful ears and is just one more procedure away from getting earrings.

"I couldn't have envisioned such a special thing as a letter to Santa bringing a child her ears," said Lewin. "I hear she's probably the 8-year-old with the most pairs of earrings in wait."

Lewin said even with her new ears, Shamaya won't be able to hear. But that's a prognosis her mother refuses to hear.

"We accomplished this goal, so I'm going to keep on going until I'm all done," said Worthy, adding that it'll be another letter to Santa.

You don't have to be a surgeon to take part in Operation Santa. Most of the letters ask for simple gifts. But sadly, most of them also go unanswered.

Of the 3,000 Santa letters Los Angeles District Post Office workers approved for pickup last year, just 300 were fulfilled.

That's why people like Jamee Tencer are stopping in at post offices this year and picking out Santa letters.

"I'll probably get gift cards. If they're very specific, I'll buy specific items for them and then come back and mail them out," said Tencer.

To make Operation Santa work, the post office needs thousands more people to do the same.

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