USPS prepares for Operation Santa 2020
For nearly 100 years the U.S. Post Office has been receiving letters mailed to Santa, written by youngsters imploring the Jolly old Fellow to bring them the gifts of their dreams. Whatever happened to all those letters may be a mystery to some; but there is now an answer – for at least some of them. In 1912 the Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local postmasters to allow postal employees and citizens to respond to the letters in a program that began as Operation Santa.
The USPS is now offering USPS Operation Santa nationwide for the first time.
It makes it possible for individuals and organizations to adopt Santa letters and fulfill some of the requests.
Kenley Bentley, Supervisor of the Bainbridge Post Office said Bainbridge is planning on participating in the Operation Santa this year for the first time. He mentioned that in years past some of the clerks responded to the letters individually because they enjoyed doing it; but there had not been an official response locally until this year. This year gives the community, individuals and organizations a chance to adopt these letters and send responses and thoughtful gifts.
It is important that the letters to Santa Claus be addressed properly. The name Santa should be in the middle of the envelope, but the Postal Service prefers it to be Santa Claus, 123 Elf Road, North Pole 88888.
Then, add your full name and address in the upper left corner and apply a first-class stamp in the upper right.
Most letters ask for toys, games and books, but some include requests for clothing and shoes. Letter writers are asked to be specific in all cases – names of toys and books, and sizes of clothing etc.
The letters will be posted on the website USPSOperationSanta.com and open for letter adoptions beginning Friday, Dec. 4. Letters received before Dec., 15 will be uploaded and made available for adoption.
Persons wishing to help fulfill those requests now have the ability to go online and adopt a letter to help a child or family have a happy holiday.
The privacy of Santa writers became protected by the USPS after 2006 policy guidelines were created regarding the handling and adoption of letters addressed to Santa. Persons wishing to adopt letters must do so in person, present valid photo identification and fill out a form that incudes the list of letters being adopted; then in 2009 the process was changed to block out the references to the child’s address and giving each letter a number. The adopter never has access to the mailing address. This process may now be done online, but adopters must complete an online short registration and ID verification process.
Once they have fulfilled the child’s wishes, they return to the same post office with the letter or gift for mailing. The package is weighed and the adopter pays the postage. The postal employee then matches the number on the letter with the child’s address, prints a label to the package and readies it for delivery. Only postal workers have access to the mailing address.
Residents of other communities should check with their local post offices regarding participation and procedures.
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