The Postal Service’s Letters to Santa program is celebrating 100 years of helping make children’s holiday wishes come true.
Although USPS began receiving letters addressed to Santa Claus more than 100 years ago, it wasn’t until 1912 that Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized postal employees in New York City to respond to the letters, and invited the people of New York to join in, through a program that came to be known locally as “Letters to Santa.”
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 letters from children to Santa received at Post Offices around the country by participating in the Letters to Santa program.
USPS has a policy for “adopting” children’s letters addressed to Santa 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 mailstream.