Participation surged to record levels last year in a Postal Service program that helps employees and customers fulfill the holiday wishes of those less fortunate.
Through Operation Santa, individuals and organizations “adopt” letters to Santa Claus from families in need and fulfill their requests, which often involve basic necessities like food and clothing.
More than 12,760 letters were adopted in 2019, the highest number in the program’s long history and an increase of more than 240 percent from the year before.
Approximately 11,300 packages were shipped through USPS to children and families in response to their letters, while the Operation Santa website received 949,420 visitors, about 20 times the number of visitors from the previous year.
“We continue to answer wishes big and small with this program and spread joy that gives such a meaning to the Christmas holiday,” said Chicago Customer Services Manager Janice Hall, who serves as an Operation Santa “chief elf” each year.
Operation Santa traces its roots to 1912, when postal workers and customers began adopting children’s letters to Santa.
USPS offered several versions of Operation Santa in 2019, including a digital program where letters are posted online for adoption and a legacy program in Chicago and New York City where letters can be adopted in person.
Postal Service leaders attribute the participation spike to these changes, including a modification that allowed individuals nationwide to adopt letters.
A customer in Oakdale, CA, wrote to USPS to express his gratitude for the package his granddaughter received on Christmas morning.
“[She] opened her package from Santa Claus and was overjoyed to say the least,” he wrote.
The man added: “I am sure Santa needs little encouragement from an old grandfather, but for what it is worth, please tell Santa his work is beyond compare and to please keep it up.”