Each Christmas Operation Letter to Santa receives thousands of emails, often asking the same questions. We hope that this page will help you find and participate in Operation Santa, or find other ways to bring a smile to a child’s face this Christmas.
How long has the USPS been receiving and responding to letters to Santa?
Officially, almost 100 years, but the Postal Service began receiving “Dear Santa” letters many years before then.
In 1912, Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local postmasters to allow postal employees and citizens to respond to letters from needy children. Over time this tradition became a program known as Operation Santa.
In the 1940’s, mail volume for Santa Claus increased so much that the Postal Service invited charitable organizations and corporations to participate – providing written responses and small gifts to children who otherwise had no expectation of receiving Christmas gifts.
Through the years, the program has taken on a life of its own. Today, cities around the country have extremely successful programs with recognized charitable organizations, major corporations, local businesses, postal employees and citizen volunteers making a major difference in the lives of needy children from coast to coast.
Does the USPS Operation Santa have a location in my town, and how do I find them?
The USPS publishes a list by December 1 each year and you can find the current list on our page here, complete with addresses and telephone numbers. If you find that any of this information is incorrect, please let us know by using the contact form at the bottom of this page and we will update immediately.
How does the Operation Santa program work?
Each Christmas season, thousands of children of all ages and from all parts of the country, send letters addressed to “Santa Claus, North Pole, Alaska“.
Unless these letters contain a complete Alaska return address, they remain in the areas from where they were originally mailed.
“Postal Elves” go through the letters and sort out those that wish Santa a Happy Birthday from those that express serious need.
Local postal workers, individuals, and organizations or companies “adopt” the Dear Santa letters from needy children. They then shop for as many of the items requested in the letters and return to the Post Office with packages ready to mail. Once they pay the proper postage, the package is on its way to a very happy child.
How many “Dear Santa” letters does the Postal Service receive each Christmas season?
It is impossible to know an exact figure, but it is believed to be in the millions.
My five year old son mailed his letter to Santa but did not put postage on it and it was returned by the Post Office. Since the letters are going to Santa, why do I have to put a stamp on it?
All mail that is delivered by the post office requires proper postage.
There is not a participating USPS Operation Santa location in my area. Is it possible to have “Dear Santa” letters mailed to me?
All “Dear Santa” letters must be requested and picked up at participating local post office and cannot be mailed or faxed. Individuals must present valid photo ID to view letters and fill out an adoption form.
Organizations such as charities, businesses, schools, etc., wishing to adopt letters much present a letter of introduction on company letterhead, provide a valid ID for the person or group of people viewing letters and fill out an adoption form.
With the exception of first names, ages, and gender, personal data such as last name, physical and email addresses, telephone numbers, locations and school names are removed before a copy of the “Dear Santa” letter may be given to individuals and organizations.
Where can I sign my child up for Operation Santa?
You can’t. This is strictly a volunteer effort and while every effort is made by kind-hearted people each Christmas to answer as many “Dear Santa” letters from truly needy children each year, the truth is that there are far more letters than there are volunteers. And as the economy worsens, the number of people who can help decline.
My Post Office does not offer Operation Santa. What can I do to get them to offer this program in our area next year?
The USPS is looking into this and we are awaiting an official response from Washington, D.C. As soon as we have an definitive answer we will post here and in Santa’s Newsletter.
Another way to participate in Operation Santa is to donate online. Your gift will bring Christmas stockings, gift cards, warm clothing and shoes, and the personal care items that these children are asking for. Please read “Dear Santa” letters here to see just how rough things are for these children. Not just at Christmas, but every day!
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