Everyone can be Santa: U.S. Postal Service’s ‘Operation Santa’ goes digital

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A sign at the Goffs Falls post office about Operation Santa. Photo/Carol Robidoux

MANCHESTER, NH – In this digital age, a letter to Santa may seem old-fashioned, but according to the U.S. Postal Service, the practice of penning your hopes and dreams on paper and ink by kids around the country is very much a thing.

That is why Operation Santa exists. The Postal Service this year upped its game. Although letters received for Santa is an age-old seasonal trend, they started accepting letters and digitizing them a few years ago and this is the first year regular folks like you and me can go to the Operation Santa website, view the actual letters and choose to adopt one of them.

What that means is that if you can fulfill the wish, you select the letter online and get the corresponding “letter ID,” then shop for a gift, wrap it up, and take it to the post office. You become Santa and pay the postage and the postal workers are your elves, making sure the gift arrives in time for Christmas.

A letter from Jaeden still available as of Dec. 9, 2020.

It’s not too late to write a letter or adopt one, according to Steve Doherty, regional communication specialist for the Postal Service. Letters will be accepted until Dec. 15. There are downloadable letter templates available, but any piece of paper will do.

“We are adding new letters to the system, as they arrive, several times a day. There is no shortage of generous would-be Santas out there so we are encouraging families in need to write in today,” Doherty said. The address is: Santa, 123 Elf Rd., North Pole, 88888. You can learn more here about the process.

New letters are vetted, verified and added to the site daily through December 19. If there are no letters, it means they’ve all been adopted, and are getting their holiday wishes fulfilled, but there should be new letters available each day until the week before Christmas.

A letter from Valentina, available as of Dec. 9, 2020.

Doherty says each year hundreds of thousands of letters sent to Santa from children and families arrive at Post Offices around the country. Most letters ask for toys and games, and electronic game systems are always in demand. Some ask for basic necessities. Some ask for help for themselves and their loved ones – especially this year, as kids are aware of the financial difficulties their own families are facing due to COVID-19.

“It’s quite moving. Requests range from toys and gifts for children to kids wishing for better health, Mom or Dad to find a new job or Peace on Earth. Children are brutally honest so some of the letters can tug at your heartstrings,” Doherty says.

Letters, like the one below as seen on Dec. 1, are just looking for some love and acceptance

Imagine what a heart-felt reply to Will’s letter might mean to him.

A few tips from Doherty:

  • Make sure you register online first. You need to enter your name, address and phone number and then an “access” code sent to you via text message or email.
  • Wrapping the gift in festive paper before packaging it for shipping is optional.
  • Consider using one of the Postal Services “flat-rate” boxes, as the weight and size of shipping boxes can up the cost of shipping.
  • Every letter received is entered into the Operation Santa database, but there’s no guarantee that every letter will be adopted. However, in local pilot programs in the past there were more givers than receivers, he says.

And here are some more FAQs about Operation Santa from the U.S. Postal Service.

About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!