Santa’s helpers

Three postal workers donning Christmas garb assist customers

Santa Claus is once again getting a helping hand from the Postal Service.

Operation Santa, an annual USPS program that allows employees and customers to aid families in need by “adopting” their letters to St. Nick and granting their holiday wishes, will resume Monday, Dec. 3.

This year, the Postal Service is offering two versions of Operation Santa: a legacy program that will allow employees and customers to go to participating locations to adopt letters in person, and a digital program that will allow individuals in seven cities to go online to adopt letters.

Participants in the digital program can go to DeliverCheer.com to read and adopt letters. Gifts can be mailed only at participating Post Offices in Austin, Indianapolis, New York City, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Washington, DC.

The letters received through Operation Santa are often heartbreaking. Many requests come from people who’ve experienced personal hardships.

In recent years, for example, a New York City child wrote to Santa to ask for a turkey so the child’s family could have a holiday meal, while a Philadelphia mother who lost her job wrote to ask for help providing Christmas gifts for her children.

Operation Santa traces its roots to 1912, when Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized postal employees and customers to respond to letters addressed to Santa Claus.

“Through the years, Operation Santa has taken on a life of its own,” said Marketing Vice President Steve Monteith. “Today, cities around the United States have enormously successful programs with recognized charitable organizations, major corporations, local businesses, private citizens and postal employees making major differences in the lives of children from coast to coast.”

The USPS Holiday Newsroom site has more information, including program instructions, privacy guidelines and a list of locations participating in the legacy and digital versions.

On your mark

Envelopes baring holiday stamps and postmarks

The Postal Service is offering two holiday postmarks this year.

From Dec. 1-Jan. 4, all First-Class Mail stamps will be canceled using the national postmark, which shows Santa Claus and his sleigh of reindeer flying over treetops.

Additionally, customers can have stamps on holiday cards canceled using a North Pole postmark. Here’s how to do it:

• Customers should personalize their greeting cards as usual.

• Address the envelopes and affix them with stamps, such as this year’s holiday stamps.

• Put the envelopes in a larger envelope, such as a Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope, or a Priority Mail box.

• Put postage on the larger envelope or box and mail it to: North Pole Postmark, Postmaster, 4141 Postmark Drive, Anchorage, AK 99530-9998.

USPS recommends mailing the larger envelope or box by Dec. 8. The USPS Holiday Newsroom site has more information about holiday stamps and postmarks.

‘Close Knit Delivery’

The Postal Service recently released this year’s Spanish-language holiday TV commercial.

The 30-second spot, titled “Close Knit Delivery,” shows a young girl who is concerned that Santa Claus won’t receive any Christmas gifts of his own.

With help from her grandmother, the girl makes St. Nick a gift and ships it to him through Priority Mail. The child and her grandmother then use Informed Delivery to confirm the package was delivered to the North Pole.

The commercial will be shown on channels that target the Hispanic market. The Postal Service’s English-language holiday ad, “Surprise Encounter,” debuted Nov. 9.

The commercials are part of a holiday campaign that also includes mailers to employees and customers, radio spots, social media posts and more.

In remembrance

U.S. flag flying at half-staff

All Postal Service facilities should fly the U.S. flag at half-staff to honor former President George H.W. Bush, who died Nov. 30.

Flags should be flown at half-staff until sunset Dec. 30.

To fly the flag at half-staff, hoist the flag to the peak for an instant and then lower it to the half-staff position. The flag should be raised to the peak again before it’s lowered for the day.

For additional information, refer to the Postal Service’s guidelines on U.S. flag display and maintenance.

Need to know

Fifty dollar bill and small pile of pills

Information, please. The Postal Service will hold its fourth and final webinar during this year’s open season Wednesday, Dec. 5, from 4-5 p.m. EST.

The webinar will include updates on what’s new and information on the tools and resources available to employees.

Participation is voluntary and off-the-clock.

Additionally, employees can participate in an online virtual benefits fair throughout this year’s open season, including a live chat with experts Dec. 5 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. EST.

The Open Season LiteBlue page has information and resources to help you prepare, including FAQs, informational videos and a link to a health plan comparison tool from Checkbook’s Guide to Health Plans.

Bottled water update. USPS has awarded Nestle a contract to supply postal facilities with 5-gallon bottled drinking water service.

If a facility currently receives bottled drinking water from Nestle, no action is required. However, management at the facility should confirm there is a valid eBuy2 requisition completed until Dec. 30.

DS Waters, which previously supplied some facilities with bottled drinking water, was not awarded a new contract under the current solicitation. The company’s contract ended Nov. 30.

Facilities that want to request new bottled drinking water service should contact Nestle by calling 800-950-9907 or sending an email to RREnterpriseSupport@waters.nestle.com. Ordering instructions will be provided based on service coverage.

For additional information, email Purchasing and Supply Management Specialist Sijo Sunny or call 214-697-2904.

Got news for “Need to know”? Email your submissions to uspslink@usps.gov.