NORTH POLE, Alaska — It’s not Santa Claus making a list and checking it twice — just to find out who’s been naughty or nice.

It’s his 354th Operations Support Squadron “elves” at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska.

Volunteers from the 15-member unit began reading letters to Santa and sending responses earlier this month under the Santa’s Mailbag program.

Started in 1954 by members of the 58th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, the program helps keep Christmas traditions alive for thousands of children worldwide.

“Last year, we received about 3,000 letters,” said Capt. Thomas Crenshaw, the combat weather flight chief, noting that replies are postmarked from the North Pole.

Children wanting to write Santa can mail their letters and a self-addressed stamped envelope by Dec. 3 to:Santa’s Mailbag354th OSS/OSW2827 Flightline Ave. Suite 100BEielson AFB, AK 99702-1502

There is no charge for the response, but donations are being accepted to defray the program’s costs, officials said.

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

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