SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio small business owner is putting in extra hours this holiday season to spread Christmas cheer. Along with their popular Philly cheesesteaks, Gino’s Deli also offers mail service to the North Pole.
The deli owner, Aleem Chaudhry, said the red mailbox is constantly overflowed with letters that include wish lists, serious questions and testimonies of resilience.
“The most memorable one this year was a kid asking Santa Claus, ‘(Do) you like hot sauce better than chocolate?’ or this little kid (asking for) a baby brother. Santa only (gives) toys,” Chaudhry said.
The letters have kept Chaudhry, his wife and staff busy during the past three Christmas seasons.
“It was by an accident,” Chaudhry said. “We bought that (mailbox) at Sam’s Club (and) brought it here. It was my wife’s idea. The kids started dropping (off) letters, and then I started answering. Next thing, it took a life of its own.”
Volunteers with good penmanship are welcome to help as Santa’s helpers inside the shop off Huebner Road can’t seem to catch up.
“We have mailed about 1,200 letters, and then, we have about another hundred over here to go,” Chaudhry said.
All letters receive a response, including those from adults and ones received on Christmas Eve.
“Usually we keep getting letters on Christmas Eve, and those, I end up delivering myself because the kids won’t get the letters in time,” Chaudhry said.
Although overwhelming at times, the business owner said he’ll carry on the tradition and hopes other local businesses are inspired to do something similar during the holidays.
“I like the Christmas spirit,” Chaudhry said. “It keeps me humble. I learn humor (and) humility with (the letters).”
Gino’s Deli is located at 13210 Huebner Road and can be reached at 210-764-0602.