USPS Operation Santa is a much-beloved 110-year old program run by the U.S. Postal Service.
In 1912, Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local postmasters to allow employees and citizens to respond to letters addressed to Santa Claus and the program came to be known as Operation Santa.
In the 1940s, mail volume increased to the point where the Post Office Department invited charitable organizations and corporations to participate for philanthropic purposes —providing written responses and small gifts.
Over the years, the program took on a life of its own. And today cities around the country have established successful programs with recognized charitable organizations, major corporations, local businesses and Postal Service employees, making a major difference in the lives of the children coast to coast.
In 2017, work on the digital USPS Operation Santa program began. The pilot test occurred in New York City. Only letters from NYC populated the site and adopters were required to be within proximity of the James A. Farley Post Office in Manhattan because packages had to be shipped from that facility. Puerto Rico was included after the hurricanes impacted the island and its residents that year. Packages for both destinations had to be shipped from the Farley building.
In 2018, the Postal Service expanded the 2017 pilot test to include additional locations (Austin, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, Washington DC – and Puerto Rico and Chico, CA (site of major wildfires that year)). Letters from those locations populated the website and only people in those locations could adopt them. Packages had to be shipped from one designated post office in each location.
In 2019, the digital program expanded further. Letters from 17 locations populated the website and anyone in the country could adopt them. Packages could be shipped from more than 19,000 post offices across the country.
In 2020, the program went nationwide. Letters were accepted from every location and could be adopted by anyone. The letters had to be addressed to Santa’s official US Postal Service address: 123 ELF ROAD, NORTH POLE 88888. Packages could be shipped from 19,000 post offices around the country.
The goal for the future is, and has always been, to help more children and families in need have a happy holiday when they otherwise may not — one letter to Santa at a time.