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The United States Postal Service helps families in need every year with Operation Santa, but the program's going completely virtual for 2020—and the heartbreaking letters from years past will make you want to participate even more.

By Melissa Mills
December 01, 2020
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For many Americans, the holiday season isn't all merry and cheer. According to the Children's Defense Fund, 1 in 6—or nearly 11.9 million—children in this country live in poverty, and that doesn't even account for the families struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic. But that doesn't mean they can't still enjoy the magic of the holidays.

child wearing santa hat writing letter to santa
Credit: Getty Images

That's where the United States Postal Service (USPS) comes in. Dating all the way back to 1921, the USPS has been receiving letters to Santa Claus. In the 1940s, Operation Santa really took off and the program began responding to the letters as well as sending gifts to children in need. And now, in 2020, Operation Santa is going virtual and nationwide for the first time ever—meaning you and your family can easily give back this holiday season.

How to Participate in Operation Santa

Joining in on the fun of Operation Santa 2020 is simple. Here's how it works:

  • First, children write their letter to Santa—and the more specific the better with that wish list. The USPS asks that letters include clothing or shoe sizes, and specific names or brands for toys, games, and books. Letters should be sent before December 15 and addressed to: Santa Claus, 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888.
  • Starting on Friday, December 4, you can head to uspsoperationsanta.com to "adopt" a letter. What's that mean, exactly? Well, you and your family can read through this year's letters, find one—or a few!—that speaks to you, and claim it.
  • Once you've found your letter, shop for what's on the wish list, wrap your gifts, and mail them out.

Making someone's holiday has never been easier.

Who You're Actually Helping by Adopting a Letter

Operation Santa released some letters from previous years to give an idea of who's actually writing to Santa, and if they don't motivate you to get involved this year then I don't know what will.

Some of the letters ask for items you'd expect, like dolls, bikes, and new clothes. But others take on a more heartbreaking tone.

One letter, from a little boy named Will, asked Santa if God still loves him because he's gay. "Dear Santa," the letter started. "Do you support the LGBTQ community and if you can speak to God, can you tell him I love him and if he loves me for being gay. Thank you. Love, Will."

And a little girl named Kayla wanted only one thing from Santa: a sleeper sofa. "The reason I would like a couch with a bed is because I have a apartment that only has 1 room," she explained. "My parents sleep in the living room on the couch and they always wake up with back pain. My dad works a lot, so his back pain stresses him out. That’s all I want for Christmas. Have a happy Christmas, Santa! Thank you. Bless you. Love, Kayla."

It's truly eye-opening to read some of the Operation Santa letters and to see just how much some families and children could use a little help.

So, What're You Waiting For?

Mark your calendar for December 4 and give back if you can this holiday season!

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