Santa’s helpers in Oregon answer children’s letters to Saint Nick


Close up on Santa Claus holding his belly, wall of brick in background.

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SILVERTON, Ore. (KPTV) – Children all over the world write letters to Santa.

A couple in Silverton is quietly working behind-the-scenes to help Santa and keep the magic of Christmas alive.

In the small town of Silverton, you can feel Christmas in the air. The lights on the trees, the displays in the shop windows and yes, jolly old Saint Nick keeping a watchful eye. The big man in red could use some help.

So when letters to Santa arrive at the post office in town mail carrier, John Zajdel intervenes.

“No one else was doing it, so we gladly took it upon ourselves, so we’ve just been quietly doing it now for almost 20 years,” Zajdel said.

With blessings from Santa and the postmaster whenever he comes across a letter to the North Pole, he takes it home to his wife, Brenda. As one of Santa’s elves, it’s her job to read every one and craft a hand-written reply he can deliver.

“I can’t imagine a kid sending it out and not getting a response,” Brenda said. “One of the letters that stands out to me was from last year. It was a kid asking for stuff for the sibling as well as themselves.”

This year another stand out, a 2-year-old girl named Lucy asking Santa for a broom. “Because I’m good at helping mom!” Her mother writes. “Especially when daddy is driving the ambulance.”

Then the magic moment when she gets a letter back. “We are so happy you’ve been a good girl this year” the letter says, “Santa said he’ll see what he can do about bringing you a broom.”

The Zajdel’s find 20 or 30 letters every year. And when they’re not working as Santa’s elves they’re parents, too.

Inspired by the innocence of it all, it’s their Christmas tradition.

“Oh I love it. I mean it’s such a crazy season, and when we see that we get so excited. And Brenda will text me all day long: did you get anything? Did you get anything? And I think we get more excited than the kids do,” Zajdel said.

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