What would you do if over the course of a few months you opened your mailbox each day to find dozens of letters that were all addressed to Santa? That is exactly what happened to Jim Glaub and Dylan Parker 10 years ago, when they were living in an apartment on 22nd street in Manhattan. The pair had been warned by the previous tenant when they moved in that they would likely receive a couple of letters intended for Mr. Clause, which usually happened every year. Still, the pair was surprised and completely overwhelmed when one or two letters quickly turned into over 400.
With no explanation as to why these were arriving at their New York address instead of being sent to the North Pole, Glaub and Parker opened a few of the letters to try to figure out the mystery. What they found were messages from children and families—many in difficult economic circumstances—who were just hoping to make their Christmas special. They were touched as they read the simple requests, ranging from the usual childlike desire for toys and clothes all the way to a humble entreaty for a bed.
Not wanting to leave these letters unanswered, Glaub and Parker enlisted friends, family, acquaintances and whoever else would volunteer to try and help make those Christmas wishes come true. And thanks to that endeavor, they were able to respond to over 150 letters that year. Since then, the effort has grown into a full non-profit organization—aptly named Miracle on 22nd Street—that seeks to unite struggling families with “elves” who can help fulfill their Christmas wishes.
Since 2010, Parker, Glaub, and all the other elves have helped thousands of families. And as the non-profit has grown, they have also strived to broaden their reach by partnering with organizations they believe in to help provide support to struggling communities. In the future, they hope to expand to other countries in order to spread Christmas miracles across the globe. Although they couldn’t have imagined it when the letters first started arriving, their lives have forever been changed by their decision to make the world a better place, one letter at a time.
“Those letters that came in 10 years ago have been a constant source of happiness and dread, but a truly meaningful and life-affirming act for me,” Glaub tells My Modern Met. “A yearly reminder of magic mystery with a dose of reality. . . Every Santa Letter is a glimpse into these homes and the deep-rooted issues our country faces every year. I stare directly into the words of these children's and parents’ handwriting and what's reflected back is the hardship they face, from the deafening effects of COVID-19, to substance and domestic abuse, to the issues of healthcare and poverty.
“On a brighter note,” he continues, “I can tell you what the hottest toy every year is going to be! And, the joy of those kids every year on December 25th is the happiest day. I've learned a lot about humility and service, and to help when and however you can, even if all I can do is just a little bit. It's the magic of the North Pole brought to you by way of 22nd street.”
To learn more about the non-profit and to find out how you can help, visit their website.