Have you ever heard of Operation Santa? I know I hadn’t. That is, until last year when I saw printed fliers at my local post office. Upon inquiry I learned that it has actually been around for quite a long time (108 years to be exact), and it was created to help children in need. Just how does it help them?
Well, any child anywhere in the country can send a letter to the special Operation Santa address at:
123 Elf Road
When they say any child, they do mean any child. However, most of the children who will send letters to Santa requesting gifts will be children from disadvantaged families. Families who often celebrate Christmas in different ways than those who open mountains of gifts every year, where they may have only one or two gifts, or there may not have been enough money for their parents to buy them any.
Such children will write letters to Santa, and they will be posted online to the new Operation Santa website. All letters must be received by December 14th, and children were able to start sending their letters as of last Thursday, November 19th. After the letters are received, the real magic begins.
Postal employees around the country post the letters for adoption to the website. Generous volunteers then adopt those letters, and make a lucky child’s holiday wishes come true. Companies can also adopt letters, and often will assemble teams of employees to help them fulfill the wishes.
Some children’s letters ask for things, and some letters are just nice thankful letters from children. Those are the most fun to adopt, because then you pick out what gifts the child will receive. Usually their age is listed, which helps, but sometimes it is not. They are almost always hand-written, too, which gives you a clue.
On December 4th, the letters become available for adoption. It is expected, given the pandemic this year, that there will be many more letters available to adopt than has been the case in previous years. So many more parents have lost their income or employment, that there will be many more children who will need gifts for this season.
To coincide with the special date, a new documentary movie, called Dear Santa, will be released in theatres and on Vod. The documentary tells all about the special program, where in the past community centers were set up for Operation Santa delivery, before it became much easier to participate with the new website. Since many of these Operation Santa centers will be closed due to pandemic restrictions, it is more important than ever that more people learn about the program.
Operation Santa is non-denominational. You don’t have to believe in Santa to adopt a letter or send a gift to a child. All that you have to do is adopt the letter, buy the gifts, wrap them in wrapping paper (or have the store or website do it for you), place them in a box, print out the special bar-coded label, and bring it to the nearest post office that accepts them. Most towns have at least one post office that does, and major cities will have many more. That’s it. And you can be happy knowing that you made one child’s Christmas more special this year.
One of the best things about Operation Santa is that last year, they ran out of letters to adopt on a daily basis. This means that many, many children received gifts that they otherwise would not have. If generous people everywhere, who were lucky enough to not lose their source of income this year, all adopt one letter, then just like last year, every letter can have an adopter, and every child who asked for gifts will receive one.
Here at Staten Islander News Service, you will receive a special reminder on the 4th of December, when it is time to go and visit the website (it is USPSOperationSanta.com) and read through the letters, finding your favorite one to adopt. It is my hope that this year, every child who is in need will receive a visit from Operation Santa.