In light of the pandemic, the longstanding campaign will be going virtual this year across the United States.
To adapt to the ongoing public health crisis, the United States Postal Service long-running "Operation Santa" program, a letter campaign wherein children and families can write letters to Santa, will be going digital. This is the first time in the campaign's 108 years that letters will be published online across the United States, CNN reports. As this makes the program more flexible, it will now also be available to families across the country, not just in select locations. Though Operation Santa first began with children and families in mind, anyone and everyone can now write to Santa about all their holiday wishes.
This year, individuals will be able to write letters to Santa. These letters will then be processed, before being shared online beginning December 4. The letters will go live on USPSOperationSanta.com. From there, anyone residing in the United States can go online and "adopt" a letter to help a child or family's wishes for the holiday season come true. The program is also open to companies that want to adopt letters in teams. According to Kim Frum, a spokeswoman for USPS, the campaign is targeted at families in need. She explained, "The program has always been about providing holiday gifts for families who may not have the means to provide for anything more than basic everyday needs."
Over the last 108 years, Operation Santa has received hundreds of thousands of letters through the USPS. Last year alone, more than 11,000 packages were sent to folks who wrote to Santa and had their letters adopted. While the campaign looks a little different this year, it will retain the crux of its mission. However, the program has piloted a virtual edition in the past. In 2017 in New York City, the USPS launched an online Operation Santa campaign. This was extended to seven cities online in 2018, and 17 cities in 2019. These editions were highly successful, setting the stage for this year's online-only campaign.
The program will play an even more crucial role as the ongoing pandemic has left many families financially weaker than the previous year. "This year, there are likely more families impacted financially and emotionally," Frum said. "It will be hard to celebrate the holidays without loved ones, whether because of distance or actual loss. But being able to provide even the tiniest bit of normalcy or spark of happiness to those in need would mean the world to so many people right now."
She continued, "2020 has seen its share of challenges affecting individuals and families in so many ways. COVID-19 resulted in job losses, temporary unemployment, and, sadly, the loss of family and friends. Couple that with devastation from natural disasters, and it's easy to see why USPS Operation Santa program is more important than ever." If you would like to send a letter of your own, you may send it in an envelope with a first-class stamp addressed to Santa Claus, at his address: Santa Claus, 123 Elf Road, North Pole 88888. For those looking to adopt a letter, full instructions are available on the Operation Santa website as there is a strict but short registration and ID verification process. The identities of both the letter writers and the letter adopters are kept anonymous for privacy and to "preserve the spirit of Santa."