On Wednesday, Dec. 19, Bel-Aire Elementary School students jumped up and down with excitement as they made their way to Boxey Blue to mail their last minute letters to Santa. With the anticipation building up inside them, the students made their way to the mobile mailbox and individually sent their letters down the chute with hopes that St. Nick will bring the perfect gift come Christmas morning.

Rodney Hall, owner of Rodney’s Body Shop, has been making special deliveries to the North Pole with the letters of hopeful children in the back of his decorated box truck named “Boxey Blue” for the past eight years.

Hall began by supporting the 41-A Toy Convoy that makes its way through Tullahoma each year. After seeing the impact that the toy convoy has on the community’s children, he began to think of ways to make Christmas as special and as magical as it could be for the kids around town.

Five years ago, Hall was invited to bring his Boxey Blue truck to the “Once Upon A Christmas” event held annually after Thanksgiving at the Northgate Mall. At this event, toys are collected for underprivileged children and letters can be written to Santa and sent to the North Pole. Seeing how excited the kids became when mailing letters to Santa, Hall decided to take Boxey Blue to the next level.

“I watched the kids that first year at ‘Once Upon A Christmas’ get so excited to write and mail their letters to Santa,” said Hall. “I got the idea to build a mailbox onto the back of my truck with a light hanging above it from a Christmas movie. I liked the way it looked, and I wanted the light to work so that kids could see to mail letters to Santa at any time.”

Over the years, Boxey Blue has been parked in several spots within the community, allowing children from all over town to place their letters to Santa into the mailbox. The mailbox is made of wood and is painted red with a Christmas theme.

“The mailbox can hold an unlimited amount of letters as it goes into the back of the truck,” Hall said. “I keep a basket under the shoot so that all the letters are kept safe for delivery to Santa.”

“The letters to Santa are especially special to me,” Hall said. “The excitement of the kids and the innocence they display in the letters is truly heartwarming. I’m touched each year when I read the letters. The simplicity of what some of the kids ask for is humbling and touching.”

Shona Prince, who works at Rodney’s, remembers a little girl’s wishes to Santa from a few years ago.

“This little girl didn’t want much,” said Prince. “She only wanted a lunchbox for school, a backpack and some new clothes for her dolly … kids are so innocent in the things that they ask Santa for.”

Sandra Franklin, who also works at Rodney’s, also spoke about some of the letters she’s mailed off to Santa’s workshop.

“The letters are heartwarming,” she said. “Some are hard to read. A lot of them will brighten your day. Some will make you remember what Christmas is all about. You can read them when you’re having a bad day and smile. You can also read them when you’re having a bad day and be thankful for what you have.”

“In today’s age, Christmas is so commercialized,” Hall said. “By mailing these letters to Santa for the kids, we’ve been able to get back to the real meaning of Christmas. Everyone in the office has been touched by these letters, and it’s affected us all in a good way.”

Because sending letters to Santa has grown in popularity over the years, Hall has started bringing Boxey Blue to local elementary schools for the students who want to send a letter to the North Pole.

“The students have been very excited about writing and mailing their letters to Santa,” said Bel-Aire Principal April Norris on Wednesday. “The kindergarten students even Skyped with Santa earlier today. Each child’s excitement and energy is contagious as they talk about Santa. Kids are so innocent and seeing them partake in the magic of the season is uplifting.”

“It was so fun,” said kindergarten student Nevaeh Sain about mailing her letting to Santa. “I asked Santa for a pet dog, a unicorn doll, toys for my baby doll and a Pikachu game.”

Allowing children to mail letters to Santa keeps the magic alive in the hearts of those who need it most.

“The letters to Santa impact the community in a big way,” Hall said. “If more people got to read the letters and understand the innocence behind them, we could all learn a thing or two.”

Boxey Blue will be mailing off one last shipment of letters to the North Pole before St. Nick travels around the world. For those who would like to get your last-minute letters to Santa before Christmas, Boxey Blue will be parked at LINE-X of Tullahoma, 611 S. Anderson St., until Christmas Eve.  

For more information on Rodney’s Body shop, call 931-455-2570.

Faith Few can be reached by email at ffew@tullahomanews.com.