The U.S. Postal Service's Operation Santa program has been around for over a century. This is, to be exact, the 106th year USPS is letting us fulfill the wish lists of kids and families in need.
In 2017, the Postal Service launched a digital Operation Santa pilot program in New York City. Out of approximately 7,100 letters to Santa uploaded online, 5,000 were adopted.
Now, six more cities are going digital: Austin, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Washington, DC.
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The cities were chosen based on overall interest in the program, USPS spokesperson Kimberly Frum tells Metro. The Postal Service also wanted to have a mix of locations across the United States.
"This time of year is difficult for families who are struggling to make ends meet," Frum says. "We are in every community across the U.S. six days a week, sometimes seven. We see these families every day and we know there are so many who want to help."
Expanding this online option opens up Operation Santa to those who otherwise wouldn't go adopt letters in person. Greater reach equals more happy families during the holiday season.
Digital Operation Santa: How it works
Starting December 3, customers in the seven participating cities can adopt anonymous letters to Santa at delivercheer.com.
Even though the letters are claimed online, you're required to physically visit these post offices to mail the gifts. You also must live in the select cities where this digital program is being launched in order to participate.
The addresses to the seven post offices are as follows:
8225 Cross Park Drive
Austin, TX 78710-9998
Indianapolis Main Office
125 W South St
Indianapolis, IN 46206-9998
New York, NY
James A. Farley Post Office
421 8th Ave
New York, NY 10001-9998
Phoenix Main Post Office
4949 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85026-9998
Pittsburgh Main Post Office
1001 California Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15290-9998
Dorothy Height Post Office
2 Massachusetts Ave
Washington, DC 20002-9998
San Diego, CA
Carmel Mountain Postal Store
11251 Rancho Carmel Dr
San Diego, CA 92199-9998
See USPS for more information.
Operation Santa: Legacy program
For those who do not live in the above cities or would rather adopt letters in person, the original "Legacy" Operation Santa will begin at 16 locations on the same day, December 3. You'll get to browse through physical copies of these wish lists.
Be sure to bring a valid state driver's license or state-issued ID card, and visit USPS' designated Operation Santa page for further instructions about packaging and dropping off your wish list presents.
The largest Legacy program is located at Manhattan's James A. Farley Post Office.
"Everyone involved in the program, whether legacy or digital, knows that even answering just one letter means there is one more person, family or child who has something to smile about at this time of year," Frum says.
Operation Santa runs December 3 through December 22.
More USPS holiday cheer
You can also respond to a loved one as Santa himself through USPS' Letters from Santa program. This is independent of Operation Santa and has only been around for about 18 years (what Frum calls a "baby" in comparison). The best part? The letters are sent back with a North Pole postmark. (What are you talking about? Santa is real!)
Just have a child pen his or her note to Mr. Claus, and follow six easy steps on the USPS website.
USPS recommends sending Letters from Santa by December 8.
"The ultimate reward is the knowledge that someone's life is a little better because you were able to help," Frum concludes. 'Tis the season.