According to post-office policy, letters without a stamp and a correct address must be kept for six months before being destroyed.
But the Postal Service director interviewed by RFE/RL's Kazakh Service concedes that employees sometimes bend the rules. "We don't want to wreck children's hopes, so we try to forward these letters to newspapers or tell parents to give their children what's requested in the letters," Altynbike Muhamedgalieva says.
Once in a great while, they'll take matters into their own hands, answering letters themselves or even sending presents.
One day, they recall, a boy wrote to Grandfather Frost that he was poor and had no boots, no gloves, no coat, and no hat. He also included a list of presents that he would like.
Postal employees took pity, collecting money and buying him a coat, boots, a hat, and all the toys that he had listed, then sending him a package.
The boy was quick to write back, thanking Grandfather Frost for his kindness. "I've received all your presents," the youngster wrote, "only the gloves are missing. The mean people from the post office probably stole them."
-- Gulbanu Abenova