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Answering Letters to Santa ‘just makes you feel so good’

At DarwElementary School Logan Square neighborhood preschool teacher XiomarSanchez (center) has been coordinating Letters Santprogram for last 10 years says

At Darwin Elementary School in the Logan Square neighborhood, preschool teacher Xiomara Sanchez (center) has been coordinating the Letters to Santa program for the last 10 years, and says it's the best part of her job. When the presents donated by readers of the Chicago Sun-Times are handed out to kids who otherwise might not receive anything, their joy is infections. "I sometimes have to hold myself not to cry." she says. On the left is Abigail Delgado and on the right is Javier Arteaga, both are 4 years old on Thursday, December 6, 2012 in Chicago. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

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How to help

Request a child’s letter at, or e-mail or call (312) 321-3114.

Donate money by going to or by sending a check or money order made out to Chicago Sun-Times Charity Trust to: Sun-Times Season of Sharing, P.O. Box 3596, Chicago, IL 60654.

Updated: January 12, 2013 6:20AM

Iliana McKittrick, a Morton Grove mother of two, rode shotgun for Santa on Monday.

Well, actually, she helped Santa drop off 200 lovingly wrapped gifts from the Golf District 67 PTA in Morton Grove to children at Darwin Elementary in Logan Square.

Parents and students at Golf — a one-school, 500-student district in that northern suburb — have been answering Chicago Sun-Times Letters to Santa for several years.

“It just makes you feel so good,” said McKittrick, who has a kindergartner and a second-grader. She has taken the lead for Golf’s participation for the last three years.

“Some of the letters are really funny. Others are brutally honest. They’ll say, ‘Well, I think I’ve been good,’ ” she said. “The ones that really tug at your heartstrings are kids who ask for gifts not for themselves but little brothers or sisters. Or the kids who ask not for toys but school supplies and clothing — basics we take for granted.”

Darwin, with 92 percent low-income students, sent 340 letters from preschoolers through third-graders to the Sun-Times Season of Sharing program this year.

It’s among dozens of city schools, social service agencies, homeless shelters and other nonprofits that forwarded nearly 11,000 needy children’s letters this year, hoping Sun-Times readers will again open their hearts and answer them.

Thousands of letters have already been answered, but hundreds more are awaiting Santa.

You can just donate to our Empty Stocking Fund or purchase a gift in the $25 range.

“Sometimes we have parents coming into our office crying, saying that they cannot express their gratitude, because in many cases, this is the one and only gift that these children receive,” Darwin Principal Mauricio Segovia said.

The children’s letters are endearing.

“Dear Santa,” one Darwin kindergartner writes. “This year for Christmas, I would like a Godzilla in Space toy, and a T-Rex. I love anything with dinosaurs. Anything with a dinosaur would be great. Love, Jaime.”

But his classmate isn’t taking any chances, thanking Santa in advance.

“Dear Santa’s helper,” he writes. “This Christmas I would like an Army man. I like Army men. You are so nice to give this to me. Love, Richard.”

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