During this time of the year, the stores are packed with consumers, children expect the gifts they asked Santa Claus, houses are decorated with Christmas ornaments, friends and colleagues gather at parties marked by joy and exchanging gifts and, on the eve of Christmas, families gather around the table for supper “in honour of the birth of Jesus”. For many, these are sociable moments that signify the magic of Christmas. But for those who have nothing to eat or to decorate their house and aren’t able to give their children, grandchildren or others even the most simple present, the date is far from magic. For someone who spends all year dreaming of better days it just is one more day on the calendar.
Some people try to reduce this suffering. The solidarity of people making donations in this period helps bringing a little hope to the poorest families, as Santa Claus, the jolly old man, visits some of these humble communities distributing presents, bringing a smile on the face of a child.
This year, as in previous ones, Santa’s sleigh for dozens of children in the metropolitan area of Belém do Pará, was nothing less than a Post Office van. Throughout Friday, Dec. 21, staff and volunteers worked to realize the Christmas dream of boys and girls who sent their wishes by mail to Santa Claus.
Each year the letters of children addressed to Santa Claus are collected by the Post Office employees, whose Christmas committee reads them and tries to find a proper donator to fulfil the wish of a child. This year the committee succeeded in fulfilling 95% of the wishes of children, who wrote a letter.
The room in the basement of the Central Post Office on Avenida Presidente Vargas, became too small for so many gifts. The ‘Storage Room of Papai Noel’ not only held the more simpler gifts, like dolls and footballs, but even objects of higher value, such as bicycles, roller skates and even wheelchairs.
Celeste Vidigal, coordinator of this Christmas program, thanked the godfathers and godmothers, as she called the donators. “We received many good gifts this year. For example, among others we had over 60 bicycles and wheelchairs. It’s a very significant number, since they are expensive items”.
Early in the morning, Santa’s helpers started loading the Post Office vans with the more bulky and difficult presents. The very large boxes that people have difficulties to take home are separated for delivery. “Those who do not receive their present with Christmas, haven’t to be desperate, because the Santa Claus Post Office will continue delivering present until January”, explains Arlindo Filho, 51, who already for 16 years dresses in the red and white Christmas costume, to embody the good old man.
The delivering route mainly visits the poorest neighbourhoods of Metropolitan Belém, having humble houses and inaccessible streets in common.
Micherson 10 years, can’t believe his eyes when Santa knocked on his door with a football table. “I always wanted one. I played it in the Sesc (Serviço Social do Comércio*) and loved it, but my family can’t afford to buy one”, he said. He was encouraged by his mother to seek help from Santa Claus of the Post Office. “She told me to write and pray, for my letter to get honoured. So I did”, he recalled.
*) One of the goals of the Sesc is to expand the access to quality education, culture and leisure to the low income population.