Help answer sad letters to Santa written by
children who need a brighter Christmas
You can adopt real letters to Santa written by underprivileged kids and send your gifts directly to the children who wrote to Santa. There’s no middle man or charity; it’s micro-philanthropy, direct from you to a child, when you give in this way.
Every December since 1912, the US Postal Service ® has permitted the public to read and adopt children’s letters to Santa. Many are written by kids and Moms who ask only for “a warm coat”, “new shoes,” or other basic necessities. Volunteers at Christmas may mail their gifts directly to the child or family who needs a brighter Christmas.
In 2019 USPS Operation Santa ® launched a new website making the letters available for adoption online. After selecting letters to post at the site, the elves at the USPS always send every letter on to Santa, so he can send every child his gifts, too.
Volunteers print out letters they adopt from the site, along with an encoded address label to go with the letter. To protect children’s privacy, USPS ® staff redact family names and addresses from letters. Volunteers may mail their gifts using the encoded label at any of 19,000 postal branches nationwide offering label scanning. See our Locations page to find one. Gifts must be mailed by December 20th, in time for delivery by Christmas.
If you are struggling financially and not able to buy gifts for your kids this year, our volunteers may be able to help out. Santa will send his gifts too, of course! Your family’s letters should be sent in one envelope and mailed no later than December 14. This year volunteers have been adopting letters faster than postal service employees can post them online, so your chances are good. But we urge you to fully read our Writing to Santa page for important tips, and for Santa’s new street address for those in need seeking extra gifts.
In New York City and Chicago, the USPS is still offering the traditional walk-in program, where the public may read letters in person this month. You’ll find the addresses and schedule for those branches on our Locations page.
After scanning children’s letters and posting them at the site, USPS elves send every letter on to Santa at the North Pole. If you’re a volunteer who has kids, explain to them you want to help Santa out by sending extra gifts to a child whose parents can’t them buy much this year. Assure them that Santa will get their letter too, and they’ll get gifts from him as well.
Be An Elf adopts letters every year according to the donations that we raise. We choose letters asking for new shoes, clothes and other basic necessities, and then mail every Mom a Target gift card. We have faith that the Moms know best what their kids want and need. We only adopt letters from the USPS and not from people who write to us.
If you don’t have time to adopt a letter yourself or require a tax deduction, please make a tax-deductible gift to Be An Elf, and we’ll be able to get more gifts to low-income kids in time for Christmas morning.
Be An Elf is a charity supporting USPS Operation Santa ® by building public awareness, recruiting new and former volunteers, offering volunteers a guide to volunteering, and providing tips to low-income families for writing letters.
While not affiliated with USPS Operation Santa ®, Be An Elf also supports it by encouraging media coverage of the USPS program and creating public awareness of it through a major in-kind grant from Google in the form of free advertising.
Some volunteers feel alone and sad over the holidays, and find comfort and inspiration being part of this. Others have families, and bring their kids to teach them the meaning of Christmas.
Whether you adopt a letter in person or online, or simply donate to Be An Elf, you’ll catch the true spirit of the holidays, and help put smiles on the faces of needy kids on Christmas morning. Thanks for being an Elf! Please let friends know BeAnElf.org is an excellent online guide to the program.Please let friends know BeAnElf.org is an excellent online guide to the program. Please let friends know that BeAnElf.org offers excellent information about the program.
Explore this website and then go to USPSoperationsanta.com to start reading letters! (More below)
Below is a 2011 news segment with Be An Elf’s Patrick Reynolds about the USPS program. Operation Santa is now mostly online, but this report captures the heart feelings of volunteering, and our website accurately reflects today’s online program. We ask news editors to cover USPS Operation Santa story, but tag coverage with a mention of our charity, BeAnElf.org, so that new volunteers can access a detailed guide to the program.
Be An Elf is a tax-exempt charity which supports the wonderful USPS program. We recruit and then provide new volunteers with excellent tips on our How to be an Elf page, create public awareness of the program, and offer tips for kids and parents to write more effective letters on our Writing to Santa page. Since 2007, Google has given us $10,000 per month in free advertising, and we have been able to recruit thousands of new volunteers over the years.
Please make a tax-deductible gift to Be An Elf. Also share this website in your social media. If you like, edit one of our Sample tweets and posts.
If you can’t volunteer to adopt a letter to Santa and send gifts, we ask you to donate online to Be An Elf or give by check to support our group’s mission and letter adoption. Your tax-deductible gift will be used to send gifts to needy families, create public awareness of the program, recruit and offer tips to new volunteers, and help kids and parents write more effective letters when seeking extra gifts through the Operation Santa ® program.
Our mission is to make more underprivileged children smile on Christmas morning and to inspire people with the real spirit of Christmas. Together we can bring joy to more children on Christmas.