Operation Santa, the Postal Service’s annual program to aid people in need during the holidays, is going nationwide for the first time in its 108-year history.
Through Operation Santa, USPS employees, customers and organizations “adopt” letters to Santa Claus and fulfill holiday wish lists from children and others who are less fortunate. Since beginning in the early 20th century, the program has been available primarily in major cities, but it will expand from coast to coast in 2020.
Beginning Nov. 16, children and others who want to have their wishes fulfilled can go to USPSOperationSanta.com to find instructions and tips on compiling their wish lists. Each letter must have a stamp and be addressed to Santa Claus, 123 Elf Road, North Pole 88888.
Santa’s “elves” will open each letter and, for safety reasons, remove any personally identifiable information, such as the letter writer’s last name, address and ZIP Code. The letters will then be uploaded to USPSOperationSanta.com — where, beginning Dec. 4, employees, customers, businesses, nonprofit groups and others can go to adopt a letter and fulfill the writer’s wishes.
For security reasons, each adopter must complete a brief registration and ID verification process before they will be allowed to adopt a letter.
The deadline to adopt letters is Dec. 19.
Operation Santa is credited with helping millions of children and families through the years. In 2019 alone, more than 12,760 letters were adopted — the highest number in the program’s history and an increase of more than 240 percent from the year before.
Many requests come from people who’ve experienced personal hardships, such as a New York City child who wrote to Santa in 2018 to ask for a turkey so the child’s family could have a holiday meal, and a Philadelphia mother who lost her job and wrote that year to ask for help providing Christmas gifts for her children.
The program traces its roots to 1912, when Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized postal workers and customers to respond to letters that Post Offices received for Santa Claus.
“Dear Santa,” a documentary about the program, will be released in select theaters and through video-on-demand on Dec. 4.
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