Kids' Letters from Postal Service's Operation Santa Capture Pandemic's Heartbreaking Impact
Unlike previous years, the letters to Santa in 2020 strike a different tone, as kids' words reflect the devastating impact that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has had on families across the country.
Because of these hardships, USPS employees believe the program, which helps get letters to Santa answered and fulfilled, is needed more than ever.
"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," said USPS spokesperson Kimberly Frum via email. "This year, there are likely more families impacted financially and emotionally."
"2020 has seen its share of challenges affecting individuals and families in so many ways. COVID-19 resulted in job losses, temporary unemployment, and, sadly, the loss of family and friends," Frum continued. "Couple that with devastation from natural disasters, and it’s easy to see why USPS' Operation Santa program is more important than ever."
As shown in photos of the letters provided by the USPS, children and their parents are asking for more practical things for Christmas this year.
Many have asked Santa to provide a cure for COVID-19, while others have mentioned how their parents are unable to afford presents because they lost their jobs.
One child wrote a note to Santa and mentioned how "this year has been very tough."
"I lost my daddy and my grandpa, and my mommy is having a rough time," the child added. "Maybe you can send her some happiness."
In another letter, a boy who asked for a specific game wrote, "Most of these days in COVID, I feel really down in the dumps and that game will kinda be like my way to escape reality."
A single mother of three, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, also penned a letter to Santa and asked for a new vehicle because she could not afford to "get the transmission fixed" and "public transit is not safe for the kids."
"I'm not asking for a brand new vehicle. Just in need of a van or a large-sized four-door car that can get us from dr appointments and the kids to school," the mom wrote.
In other letters obtained by CNN, children discussed the challenges of remote learning and one mentioned how their mom "can't get anything for me for Christmas because she is not getting paid as much so she cannot afford anything."
Frum says it is the Postal Service's hope that by fulfilling these letters through Operation Santa, they can provide that "spark of happiness" to families in need.
"It will be hard to celebrate the holidays without loved ones, whether because of distance or actual loss," she says. "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."
"The holidays are about kindness, joy, love, family and friends," Frum adds. "The adopters of the letters in the program truly embody the spirit of the season by opening their hearts and showing those in need that they are not alone and they deserve to have a special season too."
Operation Santa first started in 1912 when the Postal Service started receiving letters to Santa, according to the USPS. Over the years, the program has boomed, reaching a national level with charitable organizations and corporations even participating.
Though the program officially started on Nov. 16, USPS has been receiving letters since October and has had more than 16,000 letters adopted so far, Frum says.
Letters will continue to be accepted through Dec. 15, and adoptions will run through Dec. 19, according to Frum.
Those who are interested in being recipients of the program can do so by writing a letter to Santa Claus at 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888. Envelopes should include a full name and address, as well as a first-class stamp in the upper right corner.
Letters should also be specific, with the names and titles of requested toys, games and books, as well as the sizes and colors of clothes and shoes.
This story originally appeared on people.com