santa-letters-program.jpgThe United States Postal Service has kicked off its annual “Letters to Santa”, inviting people to respond to a child’s letter to Santa and give a gift off their wishlist.

Whether naughty or nice, the program gives kids hope, when they need it the most. For almost 100 years, the Postal Service has been opening the letters addressed to the North Pole, and determining if there is a real need. Volunteers can sort through the letters and choose one that touches their heart.

In 1912, Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local postmasters to allow postal employees and citizens to respond to the letters, dubbing it, Operation Santa. In the 1940s, mail volume for Santa increased so much that the Postal Service invited charitable organizations and corporations to participate by providing written responses and gifts. (The video below features New York volunteers)

“This is a very special holiday tradition that the Postal Service does yearly,” said Noemi Luna, the postmaster of San Francisco. “Working with the Letters to Santa program is one of the ways our employees celebrate the season and give back to the community.” 

Through the years, the program has taken on a life of its own and today, cities, around the country, including New York and San Francisco, have extremely successful programs with charitable organizations, corporations, local businesses and postal employees making a difference in the lives of children from coast to coast.

This year’s program changed slightly to add a layer of security to protect little letter writers. Requests for letters to Santa must be made in person and the child’s last name and address are hidden. Individuals must present photo identification to receive letters. Third parties, such as charities, businesses, schools etc., wishing to adopt letters, must now fill-out forms as well.

Watch the AP video below…

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