It may be harder for children to see Santa this year, but he's hired helpers from the central coast to fulfill kids' wish lists. A Lompoc family is helping get their letters to the North Pole and spread some holiday cheer.
"Watching the kids come and put a letter in the mailbox you see the smile on their face", says Heather Donovan. Her family's desire to make children smile started a Lompoc tradition.
Before Christmas, kids drop off letters to Santa in a red mailbox on Ocean Avenue near O Street. Patrick Donovan says it started with a simple question four years ago. "My daughter asked me if I wanted a mailbox. She picked it up for me. We put it inside our house for our grandkids. We have 14 grandkids so it is more of a joke."
Now the Donovans get hundreds of letters from all over. Santa's elves help answer letters and deliver gifts the kids asked for.
"Every kid got a letter back from Santa Claus," says Heather.
How are they able to pull it off? Patrick let us in on a secret: Santa's helpers are his colleagues at Vandenberg Airforce Base. "(They) pick a letter off the wall, they all treat those children. Whatever letter they pick, (they) get them a prize or whatever else."
Patrick says their neighbors help too! "We have some people that will come by and they'll drop stamps in here to help us out."
The Donovans say they will continue to help get letters to Santa each year, bringing the magic of the North Pole to the Central Coast through the kindness of strangers.
Kids can send or drop off letters to Santa at the "Letters for Santa" mailbox on 717 Ocean Ave. in Lompoc.