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CLAREMORE, Okla. (AP) — Around the world, Santa Claus has been called many things.

Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, Sinterklaas, Pere Noel, and Babbo Natale are just a few of the names by which Santa is known.

This Christmas, however, Santa’s going by a different name: Carol.

During the holiday season, all letters received at the Claremore Post Office addressed to Santa Claus will be getting back a hand-written response from letter carrier Carol Younglove, writing on behalf of Santa, the Claremore Daily Progress reported.

“About a week ago, I approached (Claremore Postmaster) Jesse (Sixkiller) with the idea of writing back to the kids who write letters to Santa,” Younglove said. “Every November and December, we get all these letters to Santa — we’ll pick them up on our routes, children will bring them in — it just touches your heart that there’s still an innocence out there, that there are children who are still believers.

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be something for these boys and girls to actually get a letter back from Santa?’ That would be magical for them,” she said.

“I loved the idea — I thought it was fantastic, and Carol was willing to take on the role of ‘Santa’ to write these kids back — all of them,” said Claremore Postmaster Jesse Sixkiller. “I told her she was going to break her hand — we get a lot of Santa letters — but she said she has the free time, and would make the time, and she wanted to do it, so we thought it would be a great thing.”

Chelsea resident Younglove has been employed with the Claremore Post Office for the past 12 years, during which time, she said she’s seen “a ton” of letters addressed to Santa, and looks forward to being a part of making Christmas special to the children who still take the time to write the North Pole.

“My own daughter wrote (to Santa) until she was maybe ten years old — those young years are such a special time in a child’s life, there’s such an innocence there and to know that, in this day and age, there are still kids who believe in Santa really makes you feel good inside,” she said. “In a way, it reminds you of when you were little. It’s very special.”

Although early in the season, Younglove said she — as Santa — has already received five letters and is in the process of replying to each of them.

“We talked about having a form letter, but I just didn’t like that idea — something just typed up with a signature on it would just seem so impersonal, I think,” she said. “Each reply will be hand-written and made out to each child personally, which will just make it feel more real to them — more authentic.”

Is Younglove concerned about becoming inundated with Santa letters?

“Oh, that’s all right — the more, the better,” she laughed. “I’ll make the time. I’ll take the letters home to write replies to, work on them during my break, I’ll get them going, but I’ve made a promise to myself to personally write back to each and every one of these boys or girls.

“We don’t know what each child’s situation might be, but I think getting a letter back from Santa Claus would only put a smile on any child’s face,” she said.

Sixkiller recently put a mailbox in the lobby of the Claremore Post Office to receive letters to Santa, which will be collected daily.

“It would be better for people to bring their children in to drop the letters off,” he said, “and to be sure to include a return address so that Carol, aka Santa, can properly address them and get them back before Christmas.”

“I’ve already had some of my coworkers offer to help, but I’m going to try to take this on myself this year,” she said. “I’m hoping to get at least 100 letters to write back to — I want to make a lot of kids smile this Christmas, and if I survive (laughs), I look forward to doing it again next year.

“Maybe, with a little help, though,” she said.


Information from: Claremore Daily Progress,