USPS Operation Santa


Operation Santa

USPS Operation Santa. This 111-year-old program relies solely on random acts of kindness and the generosity of strangers. In 2023, millions of people visited Generous customers adopted letters written to Santa and fulfilled wishes, helping families and children experience the magic of the season when they might not have otherwise, one letter to Santa at a time.

* | Tags: Common good History USPS Fact #284 | April 22, 2024

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

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 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 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 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.