Miracle on 22nd Street.
Jim Glaub never intended to be Santa Claus. But the hundreds of letters that appeared on his doorstep every Christmas season convinced him otherwise.
Glaub and his husband, Dylan, have been mysteriously receiving letters addressed to Santa since 2007 when they moved to apartment No. 7 at a West 22nd Street complex. They didn't think much of it at first since previous tenants said they'd also gotten these letters for no clear reason.
But after receiving hundreds of letters in 2010, they decided to put on their red hats and get to work. This year, nearly 400 letters poured in, and all of them will be answered by Glaub's elves.
They've since created a Facebook group with helpers from across the world, and they scan each letter and email them to a family who wants to buy the gifts on the child's wish list. The letters always come from the Bronx, Harlem, Queens and other areas of New York City with significant low-income populations, but they aren't sure why those children wrote to Santa at a Chelsea apartment on 22nd Street.
"The whole thing is truly magical, exciting. It's been a crazy journey and it's really put things into perspective," Glaub said, who is now pointing volunteers toward local post offices to answer those letters to Santa. "There are definitely some ppl who do this every year and it's become their family tradition, too. It would be great if that was a tradition everyone did."
Glaub and his husband start their elf-like preparations in November, when the letters start coming in. Even though they moved to London about two months ago, letters still arrive at their old 22nd Street apartment—the new tenant sends them along to keep the holiday magic going.
They have thousands of helpers on their Facebook group from across the world, Glaub said. There's a woman in Abu Dhabi sending gifts to a child in Queens, and some friends in London mailing presents to kids in Harlem.
Often, the letters ask for simple gifts and clothes, like warm coats or a gift for their parents. Glaub said he makes it clear to volunteers that they're under no obligation to buy big-ticket items like an Xbox or an iPhone.
In one letter, a child asks Santa for something to keep him warm: "I want a blanket because I am always cold when I am sleeping. Please Santa Claus. I want (sic) if you could get me these toys. I like sharks and dinosaurs.
"Some people just need basic things, snowboots," Glaub said. "There's things I've heard that I love. There's one kid who wanted a bed. And someone had purchased a single bed for them."
Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.