It’s time for regular citizens to help USPS spread some Christmas Cheer to children around the nation.
The Postal Service — then the Post Office Department — began receiving letters to Santa Claus more than 100 years ago. In 1912 Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local Postmasters to allow postal employees and citizens to respond to the letters — a program that eventually became known as “Operation Santa.”
In the 1940s, mail volume for Santa increased so much that the Postal Service invited charitable organizations and corporations to participate by providing written responses and small gifts. Through the years, the program grew and took on a life of its own. Today, customers can go online to browse through the letters, and if one touches them, they can adopt it and help the child have a magical holiday.
Now, people can go to uspsoperationsanta.com to get involved.
The online form will ask potential participants to fill out a form and verify their identity.
Then they can browse letters online and “adopt” a child.
Kids from all over the country send letters to Santa, asking for everything from toys to basic needs, like a warm coat or shoes.
You can pick a letter from any city in the country, and USPS is adding letters to the site throughout the holiday season. They urge participants to check back as letters from new states are added, and the list expands.
It’s also tax-deductible!
In 2006, national policy guidelines were created regarding the handling and adoption of letters addressed to Santa. These guidelines were designed to protect the children who wrote to Santa and mandated that individuals wishing to adopt letters must do so in person, present valid photo identification and fill out a form that includes the list of letters being adopted.
In 2009, the Postal Service changed the letter adoption process by redacting or blacking out all references to the child’s address and assigning the letter a number. Individuals interested in adopting letters go to the Post Office, select the letter(s) and sign an official form.
When the person has fulfilled the child’s wishes, they return to the same Post Office with the letter and/or gift for mailing.
A postal employee weighs the package, and the individual pays for the postage, or a Priority Mail Flat Rate box can be used. Then the postal employee matches the number on the letter with the child’s address, prints and applies a label to the package, and readies it for delivery.
The deadline to send gifts is Dec 20.