Is the US Postal Service’s ‘Operation Santa’ Real?

The U.S. Postal Service may be answering your letters to Santa Claus.

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Image via Glenn Beltz/Wikimedia Commons

Claim

Operation Santa, a century-old U.S. Postal Service initiative, responds to letters from those in need during the holidays, and helps families get gifts on their wish lists.

Origin

In the spirit of giving on Christmas, the U.S. Postal Service will continue its Operation Santa tradition, begun in 1912, which pairs needy families with others who will fulfill their holiday wish lists. The program accepts letters from families across the country with a wish list for Christmas. 

The letters are then uploaded to the website USPSOperationSanta.com, where other families can “adopt” a letter by reading through the wishlists online and fulfilling them.

According to the Postal Service:

Every day can be a challenge for some families simply trying to make ends meet.

Holiday expectations put extra pressure on those same families who want to make it a special time, but just can’t. That’s where the USPS Operation Santa program — and generous Postal Service customers — can help make the holidays a joyous and magical time. Since the program began, hundreds of thousands of less-fortunate children and their families have been helped by the kindness of others.

The letters must be addressed to “Santa’s official workshop address” which is Santa Claus, 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888. Letters to the program must be postmarked by Dec. 10, be affixed with a first-class mail forever stamp, and have a return address. The Postal Service does not guarantee that all letters will be answered. 

The program started in 1912 when children were actually trying to send letters to Santa through the Postal Service:

It wasn’t until 1912 that Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local Postmasters to allow postal employees and customers to respond to the letters. That simple act of kindness has led to a very successful holiday program benefitting deserving kids and families throughout the United States.

The instructions for submitting and adopting a letter are as follows:

It is entirely up to the letter writer as to what appears on their wish list. But the more specific writers are with sizes, colors, styles, favorite authors, book titles, toys, etc., the better chance their wishes will be granted if their letter is adopted.

When someone writes a letter, it is opened by Santa’s elves, and for safety reasons, all personally identifiable information of the letter writer is removed (i.e., last name, address, ZIP Code) and uploaded to USPSOperationSanta.com for adoption.
[…]
Adopter registration, ID verification and letter adoption will open in the next few weeks. Until then, there are a few things to know for those who plan to adopt a letter.

Potential adopters, once approved, can visit USPSOperationSanta.com, read through the posted letters, pick one or more that they’d like to fulfill, and follow the directions on how to grant that special wish for a child. For security reasons, all potential adopters must be vetted through a short registration and ID verification process before they can adopt any letter. If you’ve adopted letters in the past, you must still be verified each year.

Businesses also get into the spirit of the season by creating teams to adopt letters — all the better to help grant those special wishes to deserving families and kids.

More details about the program can be found on the Operation Santa website


Sources:

“Help Santa Deliver Cheer This Year!” U.S. Postal Service, https://www.uspsoperationsanta.com/. Accessed 22 Nov. 2021.

“USPS Operation Santa Is Now Accepting Letters for 2021 Program.” About.Usps.Com, 1 Nov. 2021. https://about.usps.com/newsroom/national-releases/2021/1101-usps-operation-santa-now-accepting-letters-for-2021-program.htm. Accessed 22 Nov. 2021.