Now more than ever, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) needs helpers to ensure needy children and families have a gift under the tree on Christmas morning – launching its Operation Santa program nationwide for the first time in its 108-year history.
“2020 has seen its share of challenges affecting individuals and families in so many ways,” USPS spokeswoman Kim Frum told FreightWaves.” COVID-19 resulted in job losses, temporary unemployment, and, sadly, the loss of family and friends. Couple that with devastation from natural disasters, and it’s easy to see why USPS’ Operation Santa program is more important than ever.”
Because of COVID-19, the USPS said there would be no in-person adoption at the two legacy adoption sites in New York City and Chicago, where volunteers previously could visit their local post offices, read the letters and adopt one.
After its initial pilot program in six cities in 2018, the USPS expanded its online program to adopt letters from children and families in 15 cities in 2019. However, because of the pandemic, Operation Santa will be completely online and open to deserving families nationwide in 2020, Frum said.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of letters sent to Santa from children and families arrive at Post Offices around the country.
In 2019, Frum said more than 11,000 packages were sent to those who wrote to Santa and had their letter adopted.
Letters received before Dec. 15 will be uploaded and made available for adoption.
Mail Letters to Santa to 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888.
Seeking Secret Santas
Secret Santas interested in providing “magical assistance” to deserving families can adopt letters at USPSOperationSanta.com from Dec. 4 -Dec. 19.
Coinciding with the Dec. 4 letter adoption kick-off is a family-friendly holiday movie, Dear Santa, directed by Dana Nachman.
“The documentary looks at the impact the USPS Operation Santa program has had on many families and kids around the country,” Frum said.
“The program has always been about providing holiday gifts for families who may not have the means to provide for anything more than basic everyday needs,” Frum said. “This year, there are likely more families impacted financially and emotionally. It will be hard to celebrate the holidays without loved ones, whether because of distance or actual loss.”
To read letters from previous years, visit the USPSOperationSanta.com website.
Letters on the site included one from Joshua, who said he didn’t need anything himself but suggested a donation to a charity, a homeless shelter or a public library. Vicky asked for a new power wheelchair because hers “is very old and it does not want to work.”
Milayia asked for two mattresses for her auntie, who “has been working very hard on a house” for the two of them. “I wanna do to help out is to give her mattresses that she doesn’t have to pay for or worry about getting,” she wrote.
Kayla asked for a sofa sleeper for her parents, who sleep on the couch in the living room of their one-bedroom apartment.
Yadhira wrote that she wished for money to help her parents pay the bills and a new “strong blender” for her mom, who loves to cook, but her blender is broken and cracked.
TaJa asked for help for his grandparents, who always help other people but are both sick and “can’t do much these days.”
Julian wrote that his Christmas wish is for money for his parents. “$100 would help us a lot,” he said. “They’re having a rough time with the bills. We also need Internet so I can study and so my dad can look up my brothers’ grades.”
Spark of happiness needed in 2020
“Being able to provide even the tiniest bit of normalcy or spark of happiness to those in need would mean the world to so many people right now,” Frum said.
The USPS’ Operation Santa program has been around for 108 years since the agency started allowing postal employees and volunteers to respond to letters from children writing to Santa. The program allows volunteers to give back online by adopting deserving children and families to help them have a “magical holiday.”
“The holidays are about kindness, joy, love, family, and friends,” Frum said. “The adopters of the letters in the program truly embody the spirit of the season by opening their hearts and showing those in need that they are not alone and they deserve to have a special season, too.”