Send Santa your Christmas wishlist

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Dear Santa letters from previous years. "The Santa's Mailbag program started more than 50 years ago by members of the 58th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron to help Airmen assigned to Eielson get into the Christmas spirit," said Capt. Jason Wild, 354th Operations Support Squadron combat weather flight commander. "Members of the combat weather flight now carry on that legacy."

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Dear Santa letters from previous years. "The Santa's Mailbag program started more than 50 years ago by members of the 58th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron to help Airmen assigned to Eielson get into the Christmas spirit," said Capt. Jason Wild, 354th Operations Support Squadron combat weather flight commander. "Members of the combat weather flight now carry on that legacy."

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Dear Santa letters. The 354th Operations Support Squadron weather flight has been receiving and replying to Santa letters for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Justin Weaver).

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Dear Santa letters. The 354th Operations Support Squadron weather flight has been receiving and replying to Santa letters for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Justin Weaver).

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Dear Santa letters. The 354th Operations Support Squadron weather flight has been receiving and replying to Santa letters for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Justin Weaver).

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Dear Santa letters. The 354th Operations Support Squadron weather flight has been receiving and replying to Santa letters for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Justin Weaver).

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska--Staff Sgt. Melody Goode, 354th Operations Support Squadron, prepares to sort through letters sent to Santa Claus. The 354th OSS weather flight heads up Santa's Mailbag, a free holiday program that lets children from around the world request and receive a letter from Santa Claus, postmarked from North Pole, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Justin Weaver).

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska--Staff Sgt. Melody Goode, 354th Operations Support Squadron, prepares to sort through letters sent to Santa Claus. The 354th OSS weather flight heads up Santa's Mailbag, a free holiday program that lets children from around the world request and receive a letter from Santa Claus, postmarked from North Pole, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Justin Weaver).

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Air Force volunteers are once again hosting Santa's Mailbag, a free holiday program that lets children from around the world request and receive a letter from Santa Claus, postmarked from North Pole, Alaska.

"The Santa's Mailbag program started more than 50 years ago by members of the 58th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron to help Airmen assigned to Eielson get into the Christmas spirit," said Capt. Jason Wild, 354th Operations Support Squadron combat weather flight commander. "Members of the combat weather flight now carry on that legacy."

Each year, the unit receives thousands of "Dear Santa Claus" letters and Christmas wish lists.

Volunteers in the weather flight sort and read the letters, select an appropriate reply and mail the letters from Santa Claus with an official North Pole postmark. Last year, the program received more than 4,000 letters.

"It is an important local tradition which has been carried on by weather Airmen for more than half a century," Captain Wild said. "We get to bring happiness to children around the globe when they receive their very own letter from Santa, postmarked with a North Pole stamp."

The volunteers start processing letters in late November and will continue through Christmas.

The flight must receive letters to Santa by mid-December to ensure a reply before Christmas. Children whose letters arrive too late will get a special "after Christmas" letter from Santa.

"We are hoping to start getting letters right after Thanksgiving," said Captain Wild. "Since the post office can get swamped during the holidays, people should try to send the letters as early as possible."

Write to Santa at: Santa's Mailbag, 354th OSS/OSW, 2827 Flightline Ave. Suite 100B, Eielson AFB AK 99702-1520.

There is no cost for letters, but self-addressed stamped envelopes or donations made out to "Santa's Mailbag" help to defray the cost of postage and supplies.