USPS Operation Santa

USPS

Operation Santa

For 108 years, postal employees and the American public have helped bring more magic to the holiday season, one letter to Santa at a time.

* | Tags: Common good Fun facts History Size & scope USPS Fact #284 | March 8, 2021

In 1912, Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local postmasters to allow postal employees and citizens to respond to letters addressed to Santa Claus and the program came to be known as Operation Santa.

In the 1940s, mail volume increased to the point where the Post Office Department invited charitable organizations and corporations to participate for philanthropic purposes —providing written responses and small gifts.

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

In 2017,  the Postal Service launched a pilot test of a digital Operation Santa option for residents of New York City. People living in New York City, within proximity of the James A. Farley building could adopt letters online and ship gifts from JAF. Puerto Rico was also added after the hurricanes that year.

In 2018, the Postal Service expanded the 2017 pilot test to include 6 additional cities (Austin, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, Washington DC – and Puerto Rico and Chico, CA (site of wildfires). Letters from those locations populated the website and people in those locations only could adopt them and ship from one dedicated post office per city.

In 2019, the digital program continued to expand. Letters were accepted letters from 17 locations, and the letters could be adopted by anyone in the country. Gifts could be shipped from more than 19,000 post offices.

In 2020, the program expanded nationwide for the first time. More than 1 million people visited USPSOperationSanta.com. Generous customers shipped more than 21,000 packages to the families and children who wrote to Santa to help them have a happier holiday.