Bringing Holiday Cheer, One Wish at a Time
The second grade class of PS 33 Chelsea Prep meeting Santa Claus
Ho Ho Ho! Santa Claus is coming to town, but he needs some help to get all of his gifts delivered. Luckily for Ole Saint Nick, the Postal Service™ is ready to step in and offer a helping hand with the Operation Santa® program!
What is Operation Santa?
For 105 years, the Postal Service has been fulfilling the Christmas wishes of children nationwide through the Operation Santa program. Operation Santa is a seasonal program that allows individuals to adopt a child’s letter to Santa and fulfill their wish. In most Postal Service locations, postal employees respond to the letters by providing a written response signed by Santa, but every year select locations open their holiday deed to the public.
This year, fifteen locations have invited the public to volunteer for the joyous task. The largest public adoption location is the iconic James A. Farley Post Office in the heart of New York City. This Post Office, known for its famous inscription, “Neither snow nor heat nor rain nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”, is home to Operation Santa and host to the annual Operation Santa kickoff event.
Operation Santa Kicks Off
This year, Operation Santa was launched on Friday, December 1. The elves were working from the early morning to prepare the Farley building for Santa’s arrival. In addition to the big man himself, the Farley Post Office opened its doors to the public, the media, and the little guests of honor, a class of second-grade students from PS-33 Chelsea Prep in Manhattan’s District 2.
Santa Claus reading a child’s letter
The students gathered together to sing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” during the kick-off event and prepared letters to tell Santa what they wanted for the holiday season. As Santa read some of the letters the children prepared, he happily answered some of their questions about what it’s like to be Santa Claus. In response to one child’s question about how he gets around the world in one night, Santa humorously responded, “Well, it really just depends on whichever route Google Maps takes me.”
“It’s a good time of the year to be a postal employee,” said New York Postmaster Kevin Crocilla. “We get the chance to be a part of this program and help fulfill a child’s Christmas wish.” Crocilla, who is retiring in 2018, was a speaker at this year’s kick-off event.
Meet the Honorary Elf
Honorary Elf Michael Muñoz
After over a decade of fulfilling Christmas dreams, the Postal Service recognizes it takes a warm heart and a holiday spirit to participate in Operation Santa. Every year, USPS chooses an extraordinary individual from the community to accept the title of ‘Honorary Elf.’ This year, USPS awarded the Honorary Elf title to Brooklyn native Michael Muñoz.
Michael Muñoz is a host, performer, chef, and food blogger. Muñoz has participated in Operation Santa for 15 years, fulfilling gifts himself and encouraging dozens of his family and friends to join in on the holiday giving. “I love the fact that USPS has created a tangible and affordable way to make a difference in a child’s life,” Muñoz said of the program.
Although Muñoz has been involved with Operation Santa for several years, he was chosen as the 2017 Honorary Elf as a result of his initiative to bring holiday cheer to those who need it most. Muñoz reached out to the Postal Service with the hopes of including mail from children in Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands. “They’re the people most in need right now,” Muñoz explained to a reporter. “New York has been at the forefront of helping with relief in Puerto Rico, so why not bring Christmas to those kids?”
How it Works:
USPS® receives thousands of children’s letters to Santa throughout the holiday season. In order to sort through it all for Santa, the Postal Service receives help from our Holiday Helpers and Elves. These Elves sort through the Santa Mail and make sure the child and their family’s information is protected. Individuals can come into the Post Office, read through several letters and, if they choose, adopt a letter to fulfill. Once a letter is adopted, the individual will bring the fulfilled gift back to the Post Office facility and pay for postage for the Post Service to deliver.
This year, Operation Santa is going digital! This digital pilot program of Operation Santa allows for individuals all over the country to read some of the letters submitted by children in New York, home of Operation Santa. If a person resides in New York, they can adopt a letter online and fulfill the gift at the James A. Farley Post Office. Participants can do so by logging on to www.delivercheer.com and enjoy reading through several letters before finding just the right one to adopt. If you’re not in New York, you can still join in on the holiday cheer by reading some of the letters on our site. You can also find the adoption site nearest to you!
If you have the holiday spirit and want to help make a child’s Christmas wonderful, find your nearest participating Operation Santa location and give back in your own special way! Whether you give socks and shoes or a brand new toy, you’re sure to give a child some Christmas spirit.
Happy holidays from Santa and his elves at USPS!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: I want to participate but there is no public location near me. What do I do?
A: Unfortunately if there is not a location near you, you will not be able to fulfill a gift, but you can read a child’s letter at www.delivercheer.com!
Q: How long will Operation Santa be active?
A: The last day to adopt a letter is December 23rd.
Q: Are there privacy guidelines for these letters?
A: Yes. In 2006, national policy guidelines were created regarding the handling and adoption of letters addressed to Santa. All personal information in Santa letters is redacted before letters are available for adoption.
Q: I want to adopt a letter! Do I have to bring anything with me?
A: Yes. When going into an Operation Santa location, be sure to bring valid photo identification with you.
Q: How do I go about sending my child’s letter to Operation Santa?
A: Have your child address their letter to ‘Santa Claus’ or ‘USPS Operation Santa’ with the city, state, and ZIP code™ of your nearest participating Post Office facility.