The response to the U.S. Postal Service's launch of its online Operation Santa program on Nov. 18 to help children and families in need this holiday season has been overwhelming.
In fact, so many people have stepped up to play Secret Santa, the website nearly ran out of letters from those in need just days after Operation Santa's launch.
"We have had tremendous response since the site went live," Kim Frum, senior public relations representative, told FreightWaves.
However, it's still early in the letter-writing season and new letters to Santa will be uploaded to the website as they are received, Frum said.
USPS' Operation Santa is urging more deserving families who are worried there won't be enough gifts under the tree for their children on Christmas morning to write in by Dec. 14.
After its initial pilot program in six cities in 2018, the USPS has expanded its online program to adopt letters from children and families in 15 cities this year, as well as those living in the Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands in North Carolina that were decimated by Hurricane Dorian, Frum said.
- Austin, Texas
- Orlando, Florida
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Los Angeles, California
- New York, New York
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Chicago, Illinois
- Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Sacramento, California
- Baltimore, Maryland
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Denver, Colorado
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Washington D.C.
- San Juan, Puerto Rico
The USPS still has two legacy adoption sites in New York City and Chicago, where volunteers can visit their local post offices, read the letters and adopt one.
The cities included in this year's Operation Santa were selected based on community need and interest in the program, USPS said.
The letters received from deserving kids and families in these cities will be uploaded to the Operation Santa website and anonymous volunteers from around the country can register on the site, adopt a letter, select the gift(s) and mail them at their local post offices.
Companies are encouraged to adopt a child or a family, USPS said.
Letters recently posted online to the Operation Santa website included one from Alex who wrote that his "number one priority is for my family to be safe forever," another child asked for a new coat and one requested a pet lizard. Another letter asked for a puppy, one requested Yu-Gi-Oh trading cards and a child named Sevir requested a Power Wheels car "for big kids."
The USPS also has a letter-writing kit with templates on its website to encourage needy children to write. The site includes four steps that include how to address the envelope and must include a stamp, return address on the envelope and use Santa's official address at 123 Elf Road, North Pole 88888.
Gifts must be mailed by Dec. 20 in order to arrive in time for Christmas.
The USPS' Operation Santa program has been around for 107 years since the agency started allowing postal employees and volunteers to respond to letters from children writing to Santa. The program now allows volunteers to give back online by adopting deserving children and families to help them have a "magical holiday."
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