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Minding Santa’s Mailbox

SANTA_S MAIL ELVES Karen and John Coburn will be reading letters to Santa-2
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Retired Saugus postal worker Karen Coburn and her husband keep the spirit of Christmas alive by making sure kids’ letters to the North Pole get answered

  It looks like Santa Claus might be expecting more mail from Saugus kids between now and Christmas. The red metal mailbox with the inscription “LETTERS FOR SANTA” set in the lobby of the Saugus Post Office in Cliftondale is much wider and taller than the one that stood there last year – about twice as wide and three times taller.

  Retired Saugus postal worker Karen (Perullo) Coburn was hoping for a bigger mailbox – to provide more room to receive the dozens of letters that Saugus children write to Santa Claus.

  Karen, a lifelong Saugus resident, enjoys being a pen pal to dozens of kids in town and a few others in surrounding communities who want to write letters to Santa. With the support of the Saugus Post Office, she’s been gathering “Letters To Santa” for about two decades.

  Though Karen retired from the U.S. Postal Service in May of 2019 after three decades – most of it in Saugus – she continued to receive Santa letters because she couldn’t find somebody to take over the project. For several years, she’s gotten help from her husband, John, who sits down at the kitchen counter with her and reads the letters. When they’re done, they write letters back to all of the children who included a return address in their Santa letters.

  Karen, 58, calls herself “a proud Saugonian” who loves kids. She was born in the old Saugus General Hospital and graduated from Saugus High School in 1981. John, 64, moved with his family from Chelsea to Saugus when he was 15. He is a 1974 Saugus High School graduate. He worked for the Saugus Police Department for 33 years, retiring in 2009 at the rank of sergeant. He was a member of the Army National Guard for 10 years. He later served two two-year terms on Saugus Town Meeting, representing residents of Precinct 10. The Coburns have been married for 14 years and have lived in the house at 208 Lincoln Ave. since 2005.

  Karen has some advice for parents to help make this homegrown holiday tradition more enjoyable: Be sure to include the child’s address on the envelope so Santa knows where to send his responding letter. Also include a little information about good things the child has done – something positive or something that really stands out, so that Santa can get more personal in his letter. “So, that way, the kids believe that Santa is watching them and they have to be good,” Karen said.

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