Elf shortage! Not enough volunteers this year
to answer letters to Santa from needy kids
Public can’t find where to volunteer after seeing news coverage
BeAnElf.org fills the need, provides the best
guide available on where and how to volunteer.
Make a child in need smile on Christmas morning
and catch the real spirit of Christmas!
NBC Today Show Story gives out BeAnElf.org ”for more information,” December 9, 2012
MSNBC Story with Be An Elf spokesperson, December 4, 2011
Fox News Channel Story with Be An Elf spokesperson, December 5, 2011
Los Angeles, and 16 other major cities – December 9, 2013 – Elf shortage! There aren’t enough volunteers from the public this year to adopt letters to Santa Claus sent by needy kids. Their letters plead with Santa for “a warm coat,” “food or clothes,” or “shoes for my older brother,” but many are likely to go unanswered.
In 17 major cities, the US Postal Service is now offering people letters to Santa written by low income children; volunteers may mail their gifts directly to the child who wrote to Santa. Postal staff say there are many thousands of letters and a need for more volunteers to come in and read and respond to them.
But many eager volunteers can’t easily find a postal branch to participate in after seeing news coverage about the program. Online searches, even at USPS.com and Google, do not readily result in the current 2013 directory of Operation Santa branches. Because of this, and the quality of Be An Elf’s website, in 2012 the Today Show gave the BeAnElf.org site out at the end of their story on the USPS letters to Santa program.
BeAnElf.org is a much-needed resource letting the public know where they can volunteer for USPS Operation letters to Santa. The site offers an easy-to-find, current list of participating USPS Operation Santa branches, along with the hours of operation, tips for volunteering, and photos.
Children’s Santa letters may be picked up at a single postal branch in 17 major cities this year, including Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. In 2011, 75 branches participated; in 2012, 25 branches offered letters; and in 2013, only 17. It’s a perfect storm: the Postal Service has lost billions, December is their busiest time of year, and the policy begun in 2008 of removing children’s home addresses from letters and substituting a handwritten code is labor intensive. Large mail processing stations in big cities have the most staff to spare for Letters to Santa.
On the plus side, 2013 marks the 101st anniversary of the USPS Letters to Santa program, started by the USPS in 1912, and the post office has done an admirable job of managing it for 101 years. The program is secure for posterity, and will doubtless expand again when their budget permits. Criticizing them for their financial woes will decidely not inspire more volunteers to come in to read and answer letters from impoverished children. The real story here is the Elf Shortage this week.
www.BeAnElf.org is the best available online guide to Operation Letters to Santa. The website offers an easy-to-find list of this year’s branches, images of Santa letters, tips for buying gifts for needy kids, such as backpacks and school supplies, and suggests a small gift for Moms, who the site notes are “often single and living below the poverty line.” Be An Elf smartly recommends that volunteers share the work and the fun, and give parties at which friends wrap gifts together. It notes that Target or Kmart gift cards are always an option for volunteers who adopt too many letters.
Some people feel alone and sad over the holidays, and find comfort being part of this program. Others have families and bring their kids along to teach them the real meaning of Christmas.
Be An Elf’s home page notes, “There’s no middle man or charity. It’s micro-philanthropy, direct from you to a child, when you volunteer in this way. You’ll catch the true spirit of the holidays, and put smiles on the faces of needy kids on Christmas morning.” The non-profit group was founded in 2004 by Patrick Reynolds, a longtime volunteer for USPS Letters to Santa.
BeAnElf.org hopes that reporters will include a mention of the site, so the public can easily learn where their nearest postal branch is.
Contact: Patrick Reynolds, Be An Elf’s Elf-in-Chief
Cell (310) 880-1111
Los Angeles, CA
Source: BE AN ELF
List of 2013 branches: http://www.BeAnElf.org/2013Locations.pdf
Links to past news coverage
NBC Today Show mentions BeAnElf.org at end of segment, as a good way to find out where to volunteer, December 9, 2012
MSNBC News Segment with Be An Elf spokesperson Patrick Reynolds, December 4, 2011
Fox News Channel Segment with Be An Elf spokesperson Patrick Reynolds, December 5, 2011