Santa’s helpers in Penticton help with wish lists

Working in conjunction with the national postal service, a trio of Penticton men are helping Santa answer letters to local kids.

This very long Christmas wish list was just one of the letters Santa's helpers Bob Otway and Willie Hornby will be passing along to St. Nick. In the letter the young writer asks for a large number of gifts but at the end says should be very happy to just receive one of her requests.

This very long Christmas wish list was just one of the letters Santa's helpers Bob Otway and Willie Hornby will be passing along to St. Nick. In the letter the young writer asks for a large number of gifts but at the end says should be very happy to just receive one of her requests.

Jolly Old Saint Nick is still in the process of making his list and checking twice but good girls and boys in Penticton still have time to reach him through Canada Post.

Thanks to Santa’s local helpers, Bob Otway and his friends Cal and Willie Hornby, kids have until Dec. 22 to send and get a letter back from the Jolly Gent.

Working in conjunction with the national postal service, Otway and the Hornbys are expediting the process for Santa who each year gets hundreds of thousands of written gift requests and greetings from Canada alone.

“I know that Santa really appreciates our help just because he does get so many letters each year at this time,” said Otway, who along with Cal are both former, long-term Canada Post employees. “What we do is read each letter, and we really enjoy reading them, and then when Santa gets them he replies.

“It’s just so nice to think how excited the kids must be when they get a letter back and take it home to show their parents.”

In addition to picking up the letters at the Penticton post office branch, Otway arranges with schools to have the kids correspondence picked up and the replies dropped off before school finishes for the holidays.

So far this season over 500 letters have been processed for Santa by the three volunteers.

And just like the others, there have already been several cute ones which caught Otway’s attention.

“We had one this year from a little boy who says all I want for Christmas is a million dollars and you can keep the change,” he said with a chuckle. “We got another letter that had a huge list of gift requests (almost a metre long) but at the bottom the writer added she would be very happy just to receive one of her requests, those are the ones that make our day.”

Many of the kids often ask Santa to drop off a few gifts for the less fortunate, which always makes Otway smile, especially knowing these are coming from the youngsters and not adults.

West Bench Elementary School students in many of their letters this season told of some of the good deeds they had done during the past year.

“One little fella said I fed Opa’s (grandparent’s) dog 25 times, others say I help my sister and I’m good to my friends, a lot of nice comments,” said Otway.

The letters are also part of the Canada Post literacy program to encourage kids to write and read the replies, although Otway admitted he does have to get a print out of the youngsters names to make sure he has them correct.

Reading Santa’s return letters, he added, wherever possible the man in the red suit tries to include a personal note to the writer.

Kids still wanting to send a letter to Santa (no postage required) should drop it off at any Canada Post retail outlet (not mailboxes) the post office or at the mailbox at the Cherry Lane Santa station. Printed or typed names and full address should be included on