Postal employees, members of the public, charitable organizations and corporations can respond to letters received through the mail that are addressed to Santa by participating in the Postal Service’s Operation Santa program — set to kick off Dec. 1.
However, to maintain the trust of its customers and to safeguard the mail, Post Offices must follow certain guidelines that are designed to protect the children who write the letters.
In 2009, the Postal Service changed the letter adoption process. Now, individuals who wish to “adopt” letters must do so in person, present valid photo identification and fill out a form — PS Form 6012-I, Operation Santa Letter (Individual) — that includes a list of the selected letters.
Charitable organizations, corporations or firms must follow similar guidelines. Representatives with correspondence on corporate letterheads authorizing them to view the Operation Santa letters on the company’s behalf must present employee IDs and valid state driver’s licenses or state-issued ID cards. Representatives also must complete a form — PS Form 6012, Operation Santa Letter (Organization) — and list the letters selected for adoption.
USPS began receiving letters addressed to Santa Claus more than 100 years ago. However, it wasn’t until 1912 that PMG Frank Hitchcock authorized local Postmasters to allow employees and citizens to respond to the letters in a program that later became known as “Operation Santa.”
New York City’s Operation Santa program, the largest in the country, receives 500,000 letters each year. The program traditionally begins the first week of December, when tens of thousands of people work with Post Offices by responding to letters to Santa from children of all ages listing their holiday wishes.