What is the origin of Operation Santa?
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.
In the 1940s, mail volume for Santa increased so much that the Postal Service invited charitable organizations and corporations to participate by providing written responses and small gifts.
Through the years, the program grew and took on a life of its own. Today, customers can go online to browse through the letters and if one touches them, they can adopt it and help the child have a magical holiday.
What is the program’s mission?
The mission of USPS Operation Santa is to provide a channel where people can give back and help children and families — enabling them to have a magical holiday when they otherwise might not — one letter to Santa at a time.
What We Do
In many Postal Service facilities around the country, postal employees respond to the letters with a handwritten response signed by Santa, while other offices might purchase gifts for the children.
Do all letters addressed to Santa Claus go to the North Pole?
No. Only letters addressed to a specific North Pole address — complete with correct ZIP Code — are sent there. The vast majority of letters for Santa Claus are addressed “Santa Claus, North Pole” or just simply “Santa” — these letters are processed just like all the other letters, but because they do not have a complete address, the Postal Service mail sorting equipment processes them into a default area. The default letters are then sorted — mail that might have been incorrectly addressed is taken one place and the Santa letters to another place.
How many letters do you get each year?
It’s difficult to provide an exact figure because technically this is considered undeliverable as addressed mail.
How many kids and families has this program helped?