Give back this holiday season by adopting a low-income child's letter to Santa.
Give back this holiday season by adopting a low-income child's letter to Santa.

Adopt a Kid's Letter to Santa via USPS This Holiday Season

Who can forget the magic of writing a letter to Santa? You mailed it off to the North Pole and hoped your holiday dreams would come true. In an effort to make the season as merry as possible for kids across the country, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is giving families and organizations a chance to play Santa by adopting a letter from a child in need. If you and your family are hoping to spread some holiday cheer this year by giving back, this might be the perfect chance.

Each year, the USPS receives hundreds of thousands of letters addressed to Santa from children. While most letter writers ask for toys and games, others wish for basic necessities. Understandably, without the generosity of individuals, families, and companies who pitch in to respond, these kids would be disappointed. Operation Santa has been in existence for more than a century, but this is the first year the ability to pitch in and answer a letter is available to everyone in the U.S. 

If you're interested in getting into the holiday spirit by helping, visit the USPSOperationSanta.com website to browse and read children's letters. Once you find one you'd like to answer, you can begin by creating an account on the website and "adopting" that letter. Choose one that fits your budget, of course. You don't have to purchase every item on the wish list, the USPS notes. Then shop, pack, and send gifts from a participating post office by December 21. Senders pay for postage themselves.

If you don't see a letter right away, check back as the USPS is adding new ones each day. Those feeling extra generous can adopt more than one letter, or co-workers or other groups can work together to adopt a family or multiple letters. (The latter will be available starting December 4.) For the safety of the participants, all personally identifiable information of anyone who writes to USPS Operation Santa is redacted from the letters. The code on the letter links to the letter writer’s address.

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Answer one of those thousands of letters the USPS receives each season by mailing a gift to a child in need. Photo via the USPS

This year, letters sent to Santa from the 15 cities below will be included on the USPSOperationSanta.com website:

Austin, TX
Baltimore, MD
Boston, MA
Chicago, IL*
Cleveland, OH
Denver, CO
Grand Rapids, MI
Los Angeles, CA
New York, NY*
Orlando, FL
Philadelphia, PA
Phoenix, AZ
Sacramento, CA
San Juan, PR
Washington, DC

*Customers in New York City and Chicago have a choice of browsing and adopting letters to Santa online or in person.

How did Operation Santa get its start? 

The Postal Service—then the Post Office Department—began receiving letters to Santa Claus more than 100 years ago. In 1912, Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local Postmasters to allow postal employees and citizens to respond to the letters—a program that eventually became known as Operation Santa. By the 1940s, mail volume for Santa increased to the point that the Postal Service invited charitable organizations and corporations to participate by providing written responses and small gifts. Throughout the years, the program blossomed and took on a life of its own. Now, people can go online and help make the holiday season that much more magical for those in need. 

Find more ways to spread holiday cheer and give back in our local Holiday and Christmas Fun Guides.