Sunday, July 14, 2024

Magical mailboxes appear across the Pontiac

Camilla Faragalli
Norway Bay Dec. 9, 2023
Down a snowy road in Norway Bay stands a very special mailbox, decorated with a Christmas garland and topped by a famous red-and-white hat. The letters that regularly fill this mailbox are special, too.
They come from an assortment of local children, and are addressed to one person only; Santa Claus.
The mailbox is one of three of its kind in the Pontiac. A second is located at Renaissance Variety in Shawville, and a third at the Canada Post in Portage du Fort.
All of them are being tended to by a member of Santa’s trusted honorary-elf team, Britney Gauthier.
“I call it my give-back initiative,” Gauthier said. “It was a pretty simple thought, but it seemed to take off.”
The Norway Bay mother of four started working for Santa this year. On Nov. 18, she left the special mailboxes at various locations throughout local communities.
Families that mail a letter through one of them can expect a handwritten letter in return, and those living in Norway Bay are often lucky enough to also receive a small gift, delivered by Santa’s helper herself.
Gauthier said she’s received nearly 100 letters for Santa to date, and that if this year’s initiative continues to be successful, she’d like to make the mailboxes an annual occurrence.
“It’s work but it’s fun,” she said, adding that her kids and husband have been a big help.
“Kids will tell Santa anything,” Gautheir said. “Some of them tug at your heartstrings. I’ve had a good cry reading a letter or two, but there have been some sweet little moments.”
Eleanor and Florence Laframboise visited the mailbox with their mother, Chelsea Declaire, this past weekend.
The girls had each written a letter to Santa. Eleanor, 7, asked for “a Big Stitch mallow” (a plush toy based off of the Lilo and Stitch Disney franchise), and Florence, 5, asked for “Mini Shopkins” (miniature supermarket-brand products for kids), but said that the rest of her letter’s contents were a secret.
“We were super excited to see someone in the community helping Santa send letters back to the children,” Declaire said. “It’s such a nice thing for them and it feels so homey.”
She added that the mailbox’s proximity to her house had been a big draw.
“We’re new to the community and they do so much for the kids [here], it’s so nice,” Declaire said, explaining that her family has lived in the Pontiac for 13 years, but are relatively new to Norway Bay.
“There’s always something they’re doing to make their day better.”
When Gauthier told Declaire’s daughters that she would be hand-delivering response letters from Santa, the two girls grinned from ear to ear.
“That smile is why working for Santa’s the best,” Gauthier said.
Families who have delivered letters to the Norway Bay mailbox will also be entered into a draw to win a large Christmas tray from The Bay Baker on Dec. 18, the day after the mailboxes close for this holiday season.

From left, Eleanor and Florence Laframboise meet Santa’s honorary-elf helper Britney Gauthier in front of her special mailbox in Norway Bay. The mailbox is one of three stationed across the Pontiac, monitored by Gauthier and designated exclusively for children’s letters to Santa.


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