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The Postal Service’s Letters to Santa program is celebrating 101 years of helping make children’s holiday wishes come true.
Although USPS began receiving letters to Santa Claus more than 101 years ago, its involvement was made official in 1912 when Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized postal employees and citizens to respond to the letters.
Today, the popular holiday program is known nationwide as Letters to Santa. The exception is New York City, where the city’s own “Operation Santa,” the largest in the country, responds to more than 500,000 letters each year. Thousands of volunteers work with Post Offices to respond to letters from children of all ages listing their holiday wishes.
Once again this year, employees, members of the public, charitable organizations and corporations can help USPS respond to the letters at Post Offices around the country by participating in the Letters to Santa program.
USPS has a policy for “adopting” children’s letters to Santa that’s designed to protect their privacy. Individuals who would like to adopt letters are asked to do so in person, present valid photo identification and fill out a form that includes the list of letters they are adopting.
Here’s how it works. A person wishing to adopt a letter can go to a Post Office, select one or more letters to take with them and sign the form. The child’s address on the envelope will have been blocked out and the letter assigned a number.
After the individual fulfills the child’s wishes with a gift, he or she returns with the letter and gift to the same Post Office and pays the postage for the package. A postal employee will match the number on the letter with the child’s address, apply a label to it and put the package in the mail stream.