In its 108th year, “Operation Santa” is still happening and will adapt to the pandemic
This year more than ever it’s imperative to make the holiday brighter for those in need, especially families with children who are struggling to provide presents amid the pandemic and devastating economic fallout. Thanks to the United States Postal Service’s “Operation Santa” letters to Santa program, anyone can help make a child’s Christmas a little brighter, and this year it’s easier than ever because it’s all digital.
“Operation Santa” allows children and families to write letters to Santa (directly to the North Pole), which are then processed and shared online beginning on December 4th at USPSOperationSanta.com. Once the letters are live, anyone in the US can go online and “adopt” a letter, and help make a child or family’s holiday wishes come true. Companies and groups can also adopt letters as teams.
The program was started to help families and kids in need, but anyone can write a letter to Santa as part of the program.
“The program has always been about providing holiday gifts for families who may not have the means to provide for anything more than basic everyday needs,” USPS spokeswoman Kim Frum told CNN. During the last 108 years, the USPS has received hundreds of thousands of letters as part of the program. In 2019, more than 11,000 packages were sent to people who wrote to Santa and had their letters “adopted.”
The decision to go fully digital comes as COVID-19 cases continue to spike nationwide, causing a recession and delays in mail delivery everywhere.
“This year, there are likely more families impacted financially and emotionally,” Frum said. “It will be hard to celebrate the holidays without loved ones, whether because of distance or actual loss. But being able to provide even the tiniest bit of normalcy or spark of happiness to those in need would mean the world to so many people right now.”
USPS first launched an online pilot program of “Operation Santa” in 2017 in New York City, according to Frum. By going digital, the program was able to expand to seven cities online in 2018, and 17 last year. That made it easier to go fully digital this year.
Starting Dec. 4th, letters are available for adoption online through the USPS Operation Santa website. You can pick any letter from any city in the entire country, and the entire process of gift-giving is also tax-deductible.
“Operation Santa Claus” first began in 1912 when United States Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local postmasters to start responding to needy children. Ever since, the USPS and those generous enough to give have been helping create Christmas magic for children everywhere.
Families in need who would like to write a letter to participate in “Operation Santa” can send letters to the big man himself at his “official” address in the North Pole:
123 Elf Road North Pole, 88888
When it comes to letters, the choice is yours. “Find one that speaks to you and fulfill wishes as you see fit,” the site reads. “Letters come from hopeful children and families. Answer one (or many) to make a difference. No matter how big the wish, do what’s doable for you.”
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