Santa's Desk

Dear Santa USPS Operation Santa Documentary

Each year, the U.S. Postal Service conducts ‘Operation Santa’, which is a program that helps under-privileged youngsters receive Christmas gifts when they might otherwise receive little or nothing. Parents who are going through difficult financial times are encouraged to make their children aware of this program, so that it might become possible for their children to receive gifts which the parents simply cannot afford. This program has worked very effectively in the past, and it’s a wonderful way of ensuring that good children receive a little Christmas cheer, instead of being disappointed on that special day.

On December 4, 2020, there will be a world premiere of a documentary about this program, entitled ‘Dear Santa’. There will be several purposes served by airing the program, apart from its purely informative value. First of all, it will alert alert youngsters to the fact that they can write in a letter which is intended to reach Santa Claus, and which may result in them receiving a gift for Christmas.

On the other end of the spectrum, it will deliver an opportunity for adults to read some of the digital letters which have been sent in already to Santa, and then adopt a child or the child’s family, by purchasing gifts for those individuals. USPS spokeswoman Kim Frum says that, “The 108-year-old program that fulfills wish lists for needy families and kids couldn’t come at a more critical juncture. 2020 has seen its share of challenges affecting individuals and families in so many ways. COVID-19 has resulted in job losses, temporary unemployment, and sadly the loss of family and friends. Couple that with devastation from national disasters, and it’s easy to see why USPS’ Operation Santa program is more important than ever.” 

Impact of COVID-19

What Ms. Frum is referring to is the fact that 2020 has been a particularly difficult year for many people in the country, from the standpoint of having either intermittent employment or none at all. The various restrictions and lockdowns which have been in effect for much of the year have caused a number of small businesses to shut their doors, or to limit commerce with consumers.

Many families are still suffering from the effects of less than regular employment, and family budgets may not allow for gift-giving during the holidays. Also because of the coronavirus pandemic, all in-person letter adoptions have been canceled this year to limit the exposure of individuals for catching the disease.

The Operation Santa program

This program was actually begun in 1912 when Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock designated a single mailbox where all letters to Santa could be pigeonholed. At that time, he authorized postal workers to open these letters and respond to them according to their level of interest. Normally, when letters come in now they are posted online, which is a practice begun in 2017.

In that year, a pilot program was instituted where letters from the New York City area were accepted and posted online. In the following year, six more cities were brought into the program, and in 2019, the count of city participation was up to 17. For 2020, all cities in the country are now eligible, and that means children from any state can write letters to Santa and have a reasonable expectation of receiving a response.

Adults wishing to adopt a child or family for the Operation Santa program must register with the program and pass an ID verification test in order to participate. This year, letters will be posted online starting on December 5, and that’s when adults can choose a particular child or family to adopt. Letters should contain specific ideas for gifts that the child wants. If the gifts are in the category of clothing, children should be writing in their sizes and preferred color schemes. If the gifts are in the category of toys, books, or other objects, children are encouraged to be as specific as possible when writing the letters.

How to participate

Parents should encourage their children to write letters to Santa specifying what kind of gift they would like to receive for Christmas, and put that letter in an envelope addressed to Santa Claus, 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888. Letters will be accepted through December 15, and a letter adoption process will be carried out in a digital manner.

To find out more information on the program you can visit the website set up by the USPS for this purpose, which is Last year, more than 11,000 letters were adopted in a very limited program, and that number is expected to soar much higher, since the program has now been opened up to the entire country.

In situations where Secret Santas cannot be verified by the identification they submitted, it will still be possible for them to encourage a friend or an entire team to adopt a family or child. You can find out what the guidelines are for shipping gifts around the country from the USPS, because some special requirements have been emplaced during the time of COVID-19 for package shipping. 

You can also find out much more information about the program in general, and about the history of Operation Santa, by watching Dear Santa on its premiere date of December 4. This will undoubtedly be a wonderful way for you to spread some cheer during the holidays, and to make at least one individual enjoy the season much more than they otherwise would have.