USPS kicks mailing into high gear with Operation Santa!

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It’s officially Santa season. Did you ever wonder where your letters to the North Pole went as a child? If you thought they ended up in the recycling bin, you’re not exactly wrong. During the holiday season, 15 regional post offices participate in “Operation Santa.”

The United States Postal Service (USPS) created this program, as each year hundreds of thousands of letters sent to Santa from children and families arrive at Post Offices around the country. In 1912 General Frank Hitchcock authorized local postal employees and citizens to respond to the letters — a program that eventually became known as Operation Santa.

Today, kind hearted people or postal employees can go online to browse through the letters, and if one touches them they can reach out and help the child have a magical holiday.

Some postal employees may respond to these letters with handwritten responses signed by Santa.

So how does one adopt a letter? Customers participating in Operation Santa are required to fill out a form showing a valid state or federal ID. After completing the forms customers can read and adopt letters online.

In order to preserve anonymity, the writer’s personal information is not available or visible to the public. Customers are responsible for paying for a postal stamp or shipping fees to mail the gift to the letter writer.  Once the package is correctly paid for and checked through the USPS, retail associates will match the package with the original letter writer’s address.

Fifteen cities throughout the United States are helping to keep Operation Santa alive, including Baltimore, Denver, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, Austin, Boston, Chicago, and more.

So what about about those letters going to the North Pole? Some actually do arrive there. Only letters addressed to a specific North Pole address, complete with the correct ZIP Code, are sent there. If you’re wondering that would be 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888.

“Sharing Santa’s official mailing address will allow letters to reach the North Pole faster than in years past because with an actual street number and ZIP code, our machines can sort them – unlike being sorted by hand, which is how letters simply labeled Santa, North Pole, are handled,” said Kim Frum, a spokeswoman for the Postal Service, in an interview by USA Today.

The vast majority of the letters that are addressed “To Santa Claus in the North Pole,” are processed just like any other letter that does not have a complete address. The Postal Service sorts them and sends them into a default area, returns them to the sender, or puts them online to participate in Operation Santa. Sadly, some letters with invalid addresses, illegible letters due to weather, or postal errors are simply recycled. 

Volunteer and respond to children’s letters online to continue spreading joy during the holiday. If you want letters to arrive at the north pole make sure you use the correct address. Spread the Christmas joy by joining Operation Santa!