This year, children across the nation will enjoy a little extra holiday cheer thanks to Operation Santa, which is making its festive return to post offices across the country.
Operation Santa allows people to “adopt” letters to Santa Claus and send responses and thoughtful gifts in Santa’s place. According to postal officials, each year there are hundreds of thousands of letters to Santa. Many of the letters ask for toys and games, but some ask for basic necessities or help for themselves or a loved one.
The USPS says, “The vast majority of letters for Santa Claus are addressed ‘Santa Claus, North Pole’ or just simply ‘Santa’ – these letters are processed just like all the other letters, but because they do not have a complete address, or zip code, the Postal Service mail sorting equipment processes them into a default area. The default letters are then sorted – mail that might have been incorrectly addressed is taken to one place and the Santa letters to another place.”
To get involved, individuals can go to a local post office and choose to adopt a letter. People in New York City and Chicago have the option of adopting letters online, as well. If you are getting involved online, you will go through a short registration and ID verification process.
If someone chooses to adopt a letter in person, they are required to fill out paperwork and show a valid ID; a state or federal ID works. Then customers can read and adopt a letter or multiple letters. To protect the writers of the letters, some information, such as last name and address, are not visible.
Customers will have to pay the postage to mail the letter-writer a gift. Once the postage is paid, a retail associate will match the box with the letter writer by using the code.
Below are the cities participating in letters sent from Santa, according to the USPSOperationSanta.com:
• Austin, TX
• Baltimore, MD
• Boston, MA
• Chicago, IL
• Cleveland, OH
• Denver, CO
• Grand Rapids, MI
• Los Angeles, CA
• New York, NY
• Orlando, FL
• Philadelphia, PA
• Phoenix, AZ
• Sacramento, CA
• San Jaun, PR
• Washington, DC
The program has been around since 1912, when Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock allowed local postmasters and employees to respond to letters written to Santa.