Print newspapers are such an important part of the framework of communities around the world, and this fact is evident in the story of a recent little Christmas magic right here in Calhoun, Georgia.

Many people may not realize that letters not addressed to Santa Claus sometimes end up in the office of their local newspaper. Our mailbox at the Calhoun Times is no stranger to letters sent to the big guy at the North Pole.

In early December, one of those letters from Santa landed on my desk, so I opened it to see what message I had to convey to the merry old elf, since I would see him in person several times before Christmas.

This particular letter really caught my attention, and I couldn’t let go.

The letter came from a young boy with a simple request:

“Dear Santa, can you bring an elf. I haven’t been bad this year, please. I want an elf.

A beautiful drawing of Santa Claus holding stockings with an elf right next to him was included.

I kept the letter in my hand for a while … reading the “I haven’t been bad this year” line over and over again.

Here is this kid and he’s not asking for much. How would he feel if he’d been really good – or even if he’d just been pretty good – and if he’d appealed directly to Santa Claus, and then that didn’t happen?

My daughters have an elf, and although it is boring for us as parents, it brings them so much joy.

Knowing nothing about the young man other than his name and address, I directed my journalism research skills to find him. But since the case involved the magic of Christmas, I had to be careful.

Starting with a text message to a teacher, I simply texted a photo of the letter, name and address and asked ‘do you know this kid? It was a blow in the dark as to which local elementary school he might attend, and even the age was just speculation.

As it turned out, the child’s luck continued and we found not only the right school, but the right grade level. It wasn’t long before what started with the extra effort of a Calhoun postal worker was now a mission from a local school teacher and office staff.

It didn’t stop there, however. The child had been found, but there had been very short notice to find an elf, and all the local shelves were empty. Yes .. there weren’t any elves on the shelves. But magic has a way of overcoming reality.

A social media post was very quickly responded to by a whole bunch of wonderful local people who donated their own unused elves – then the perfect elf was picked up by someone while out of town and she wouldn’t take a dime for her problems.

A teacher picked up the elf, it was wrapped, sent to school, and the boy’s teacher made sure he was at the front desk waiting for him – straight from the North Pole.

There is no magic like the magic of Christmas, and seeing a community come together to keep that spirit alive for a child should make us all proud to live here.

It shouldn’t be surprising, especially for anyone who knows the true meaning of Christmas, to see the love of God shared through kindness and selfless example in neighborly teamwork.

So the next time you have the opportunity to take that one step closer, take a extra moment, or spend an extra dollar to spice up someone’s day… think about going.

We don’t know what will happen to this kid’s life, but we do know he was excited and smiling when he was called into the office to pick up his elf. And we know he is our neighbor and part of our responsibility to help throughout this life.

Merry Christmas kid … and if you ever read this – you’ve always wondered where this gift really came from – know that it really was the magic of Christmas. Through all of us … yes, there really is a Santa Claus.