Retired mail carrier still delivers to Santa

by: Marcus Hathcock, Gail Gannon makes sure letters to Santa at the Sandy Post Office make it to the North Pole.

Christmastime is a special part of the year for retired mail carrier Gail Gannon.

Gannon, 56, started her more than 30-year career with the Sandy Post Office when her sister-in-law enlisted her as part-time help during the Christmas season. She joined the postal service to earn money for a sewing machine, but the job blossomed into a career.

For almost a quarter of a century, Gannon, 56, has been Santa Claus' helper in Sandy. Every holiday season she sets up the special hand-painted wooden mailbox at the post office for children to send their letters to Santa and personally makes sure that the jolly elf replies to every letter. She apparently is in close contact with the North Pole.

'I have a sisterhood with Mrs. Claus,' Gannon admitted. 'We keep in contact.'

Families are so confident in Gannon's ability to get messages to Santa that even when they move away, they make sure Christmas wish lists come to Sandy.

'I've received letters to Santa Claus in Sandy, Oregon,' she recalled. 'Two came from New Jersey; we had one from Arizona. They knew that if they came here, they'd be answered.'

Gannon, who graduated from Sandy High School in 1968, retired from her Sandy Post Office career last September, but she still makes sure the letters make it to Santa.

'I love doing it,' Gannon said, her eyes welling with tears. 'I've really dedicated myself to this. I've always felt like I belonged to Sandy. This is my community.'

Gannon delivered mail for more than 30 years, but one delivery was a little more memorable than others.

About 10 years ago, Gannon was on her route on Colorado Road when she found a man bleeding profusely after he cut off part of his thumb while working with a skill saw. The man jumped in Gannon's mail Jeep and had Gannon drive him to the emergency room.

'The next day, his girlfriend sent me flowers, which is really nice,' Gannon recalled. 'We never found the thumb, but he was fine. That was the most exciting thing that ever happened to me.'

Still technically on the books, Gannon is using up the seven months of sick time she accumulated over the years, getting a jump on retired life.

She still has the sewing machine that she bought with her first Post Office paychecks and now looks forward to actually using it. She also plans to concentrate on her antique business and go to a lot of garage sales.

But thus far, there aren't any plans to stop delivering Santa's mail.

'This means a lot to me,' Gannon said. 'I just want children to believe, to have hope that the world is still a good place.'