Ocean Pines operations director for eight years has offered free service to community during holiday
For nearly a decade, Ocean Pines Operations Director Colby Phillips has partnered with the North Pole to help send letters from Santa Claus to local children.
Eight years ago, Phillips said she went online to look for a service that would deliver a holiday letter to her two daughters, then 10 and 5 years old.
“There were plenty out there, but they cost upwards of $15. That seemed high for a letter I could probably write myself, with Santa’s help,” Phillips said. “So, Santa and I came up with a fun letter and offered the same service to a few friends, and it’s just grown over the years.”
Each year, Philips sends letters from Santa to 400-500 children in the Ocean Pines area and beyond. She starts in October to keep up with the high demand, and said she’s used enough glitter over the years to fill several large warehouses.
“My house glistens for a few months, and my dogs sparkle for sure!” she said.
Phillips became acquainted with St. Nicholas when she was just a little girl.
“Because I have always believed in him, he trusts me to help him carry out this important tradition,” she said. “He truly is a jolly person! And his sweet tooth is as big as mine, so we enjoy discussing letters over sweets!”
Along with getting to know Father Christmas, Phillips said she’s also met with his loveable, furry sidekicks.
“The reindeer are wonderful!” she said. “Last year, a new reindeer named Peppermint was born into the family and Santa sent a picture in his letters to all the children. This year, he will talk about Peppermint’s learning to fly! Oh, and who knew, but reindeer love Rice Krispies.”
Community donations over the years have helped cover the cost of sending the letters, and neither the North Pole nor Phillips has ever charged for the service.
To receive a letter from Santa, simply email email@example.com by Dec. 1 and include the child’s name and address.
“If children write a letter to Santa (he loves those!) they can drop them off at the Ocean Pines post office, as I also receive those,” Phillips said. “A personalized letter will be sent back to the children at one address. Santa mentions a bunch of stuff he has been doing and adds some fun details in the letter too.
“And, don’t worry, Santa does not promise anything, especially puppies or iPhones, even when asked!” she added.
For Phillips, continuing the tradition is a wonderful way to stay in touch with an old friend, who just so happens to be made of pure Christmas magic. It also warms her heart to help share good tidings each year with hundreds of area kids.
“I love the innocence of children,” Phillips said. “Children really teach us about faith, believing in something they don’t actually see with their own eyes, like Santa coming into their house at night. I feel that, in this day and age, if we can keep them believing in the miracle of Christmas and bring a smile to their face, then I have accomplished what I set out to do.
“Spreading joy is contagious and I love being a part of that, and I believe Santa is thrilled with me helping him!” she continued. “There are so many good boys and girls and, with the elves so busy building toys, Mrs. Claus and I can help with the letters.”