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Thursday, December 02, 2021

As the holiday season draws near, children draft their wish lists, and Santa Claus wants to hear from every Gainesville girl and boy.

The City of Gainesville Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs will collect letters until Dec. 12 for Operation Letters to Santa, and every letter will receive a response.

People can drop off letters at Eastside Community Center, Clarence R. Kelly Community Center, Porter Community Center and the Albert “Ray” Massey Recreation Center.

The program usually receives about 200 to 300 letters, said Shannon Keleher, recreation manager at the Department of Parks, Recreations and Cultural Affairs.

Keleher said this program is one of the ways the department encourages children to practice their writing skills.

“It will help them learn to communicate effectively,” Keleher said.

Mostly children between 5 years old and 8 years old send letters.

Keleher said writing the letters can also be good practice for the FCAT.

Katharine Forbes, marketing technician for the department, said the letters tie into the city’s youth programs character-building curriculum.

Each child who writes a letter should include two of his or her accomplishments, Forbes said, because the department wants to show that children in Gainesville are talented and special.

It’s important for the children to know that Santa Claus wants to hear all about them, she added.

Other requirements include name, age, gender, three wishes to Santa Claus and a return address.

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While the department isn’t distributing gifts, Santa’s response letters will be personalized to each child, signed and sealed with wax.

“They’ll have something to post to their refrigerator,” Forbes said.

Letters can also be faxed to 352-334-3299 or mailed to:

PRCA Administrative Office

c/o Operation Letters to Santa

P.O. Box 490, Station 24

Gainesville, FL 32627

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