Celebrate 100 Years of the Letters to Santa Program and the U.S. Postal Service

Background As much as history reveals, the Postal Service began to receive letters to Santa Claus more than 100 years ago. However, our involvement was made official when in 1912 Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock autho­rized local postmasters to allow postal employees and cit­izens to respond to the letters in the program that 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 provide written responses and small gifts to the children who wrote letters.

During the past 60 years, the program has taken on a life of its own. Today, cities around the country have hugely successful programs working with recognized charitable organizations, major corporations, local businesses, and postal employees to make a difference in the lives of chil­dren from coast to coast.

100th Anniversary This year, the Postal Service is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Letters to Santa program as it continues to fulfill the dreams of children nationwide. A number of local Post Offices assist Santa by responding to letters. Others work with groups to collect gifts. Still others invite the public to help Santa answer the letters from children and their families. Letters to Santa is an annual holiday tradition embraced by the U.S. Postal Service and the public alike. One hundred years later, postal employees, volunteers, and organizations remain committed to making children’s Christmas wishes come true.

What We Do The Postal Service has Letters to Santa programs around the country that vary as much as the locations themselves. Some cities and towns work with their local schools to write letters back to the children as if they were Santa, some work with established groups and assist with the collection of gifts, and others invite the pub­lic to adopt Santa letters.

New York City’s “Operation Santa” program is the larg­est in the country, receiving more than a half million letters a season. The city kicks off its program with a celebration that usually takes place the first week of December. Every year, the iconic James A. Farley Building on Eighth Avenue is visited by tens of thousands of people who come in per­son to adopt letters. In New York City, the program has changed very little since the 1940s and continues to thrive much to the delight of both the readers and writers of let­ters to Santa.