Are you longing for a white Christmas, craving a red-nosed reindeer – all before Black Friday?
So is the U.S. Postal Service, which is opening its annual “Operation Santa” letter adoptions earlier than ever before. Starting Monday, holiday angels can start turning visions of sugar peaches into reality for those facing a stressful winter.
The 111-year-old Operation Santa program handles letters to Santa at the North Pole. The Postal Service is allowing people to adopt and respond to letters, giving children across the country some hope that their holiday wishes will be heard — and even fulfilled.
“The program always resonates in powerful ways,” USPS senior public relations representative Sue Brennan told USA TODAY. Brennan says more than 18,000 letters were approved in 2022, and he expects the outpouring of generosity to continue this year.
“This program is unlike anything else in the Postal Service — in every aspect. Employees who participate in the program are in awe of the history of the program and the absolute joy it brings to so many,” she said. “Seeing so many thousands of people wanting to Helping strangers have a happier holiday is something I can’t quite explain.”
Santa’s operation began accepting letters this year in mid-September. Now the mailroom is filled with letters waiting to be adopted and wishes filled out when people sign up USPSOperationSanta.com.
What do letter writers need to know?
Santa letters must include the writer’s first and last name and the sender’s complete address (including street, apartment number, city, state and zip code.) The envelope must have postage and be addressed to: Santa, 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888.
Letters are opened in Santa’s mailroom, personal information is redacted, and the letters are uploaded to the USPS website. Writers do not need to register online; All letters must be postmarked by December 11th.
There is no age limit for messages, however The USPS website offers writing tips For types and templates that can be downloaded and printed – from “ho ho ho letter” to “winter bear letter”.
What do gift givers need to know?
People can approve messages through the online channel on USPSOperationSanta.com, but you have to create an account and verify your identity. All adoptions are digital. Each registered person can adopt up to 15 characters. Messages written in Spanish are published and can be searched using the language filter.
After letters are approved, donors are responsible for shipping gifts via Priority Mail and paying postage. December 18 is the deadline for adopters and the recommended shipping date for gifts. People can send up to six packages per individual adoption, and 12 packages per family adoption.
“These messages make me cry”
Humble hopes and simple requests echo through the lines of Santa’s letters.
Some of the most heart-melting words come from those looking out for other family members. “These letters make me cry,” Brennan said. “Writers who ask for gifts for others are beautiful and selfless.”
Itzel listed some small wishes for Santa this year — fidget toys and real little toys — but said her biggest wish was “for the homeless to have a home, food and water. That’s what I want for Christmas.”
Saidi told Santa “it’s okay if I don’t get everything I ask for” – but she asked to put on makeup so she could “surprise” her sister.
Zoe and Ella didn’t have a wish list: they just wanted to say “thank you for the wonderful gifts you’ve given us over the years.”
And sometimes moms and dads turn to Santa with explicit pleas. “This year has been tough and we’ve had a lot of unexpected medical expenses,” wrote Amy, who requested gift cards to buy food for her family. “The smile on my family’s faces when their stomachs are full and their tongues are happy is all I need.”
“Web maven. Infuriatingly humble beer geek. Bacon fanatic. Typical creator. Music expert.”