You can help the United States Postal Service provide gifts for underprivileged children and families this year.

By Kristi Pahr
November 21, 2019

The most wonderful time of year is upon us! As holiday decorations go up in homes and businesses across the country and children draft their letters to Santa, excitement and good cheer infect us all. But while some families happily wrap gifts to put under the tree others struggle to make their children's holiday wishes come true.

According to the Children's Defense Fund, almost 13 million children in the United States live in poverty and many families do not earn a living wage. Over the holidays, many families struggle to fill their children’s stockings, put gifts under their tree, and make Christmas wishes come true. The holiday season can be a stressful and heartbreaking time for underprivileged families, but the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has a plan to help families in need this holiday season.

Operation Santa started in 1912 when then-Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock began allowing postal employees to respond to individual letters to Santa. By the 1940s, the USPS had started inviting charitable organizations to participate in the program by sending small gifts and written replies to letters from children and has helped fulfill countless children's Christmas wishes since. The current iteration of Operation Santa 2019 allows the public to "adopt" Santa letters, then purchase and ship gifts to the addresses supplied in the letters.

Illustration by Parents Staff; Getty Images (2)

How It Works

For Santas:

Secret Santa benefactors can log in to USPSOperationSanta.com and create an account. By setting a few filters, preferred city, size of family, budget, and more, members of the public can scroll through dear Santa letters and adopt the one (or ones) they choose.

The wish-fulfilling packages are shipped through participating post office locations directly to the children who sent the letters.

For Families:

Children can draft their letters to Santa (the USPS even supplies downloadable letter writing kits!) and mail them to 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888. All letters should be postmarked no later than December 14. They ask that children be as specific as possible by including relevant information like clothing and shoe sizes, age, and home address.

Any kids can write to Santa about their Christmas wishes and the USPS puts all the letters sent to Santa's 123 Elf Road address up on the site for adopters to peruse.

And it's not all Xboxes and iPads (although a kid can dream!). Participants can ask Santa for medical procedures or job opportunities as well. If you feel like you can fulfill such a need, a USPS representative will get in contact with you after you "adopt" the letter through the website. Individuals who sign up to become a secret Santa can do so individually or join as a group and sponsor multiple children or families at once.

To learn more about the United States Postal Service’s Operation Santa click here.

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