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.

For the first time, USPS Operation Santa ® has launched a new website making the letters available online nationally for the first time. After selecting, scanning and posting letters online, the elves at the USPS send them directly on to Santa, so he can send his gifts too.

Volunteers across the nation are now able to read and adopt letters online, and print out letters they select, together with encoded address labels. To protect children’s privacy, USPS ® staff redact family names and addresses from every letter, but volunteers can mail gifts using the labels at any of 19,000 postal branches nationwide. See our Locations page to find one.

Gifts must be mailed by December 20th, in time for delivery by Christmas.

Letters to Santa seeking extra gifts from volunteers must be mailed ASAP, but no later than December 14. Right now your chances of having a volunteer adopt your letter along its way to Santa are excellent, because volunteers have been adopting letters faster than postal service employees can post them online. You should absolutely see our Writing to Santa page for important tips to write an effective letter that will get the attention of volunteers, and there you’ll also find Santa’s new address for those 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 have 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 Santa will get their letter and they’ll get gifts from him, too.

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.

Your gift will also help us further Be An Elf’s primary mission of building public awareness of the USPS ® Operation Santa ® program, recruiting new and former volunteers, and offering new volunteers a great guide to volunteering, and tips for low-income families to write effective letters. Be also supports Operation Santa by encouraging media coverage of the USPS program, and by recruiting new volunteers for it, thanks to a major in-kind grant from Google. Please let friends know is an excellent online guide to the program.

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!

Explore this website and then go to to start reading letters!  (More below)

NOTE ABOUT THE VIDEO: 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 nonetheless captures the essence and heart feelings of volunteering, and our website accurately reflects the 2019 program. Our charity supports the USPS program, so we ask editors to tag coverage of USPS Operation Santa with a mention of our site,, like this news reporter did. That way new volunteers can access a detailed guide to the program, and families in need will see our tips for effective letter writing, too. 

While we are not affiliated with the USPS Operation Santa ®, 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 ta-deductible gift to Be An Elf. Our mission is to make more underprivileged children smile on Christmas morning, and to inspire people with the real spirit of Christmas. 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.

Together we can bring joy to more children in real need on Christmas morning.

Separation Decoration

Be An Elf is a tax-exempt Christmas children's charity, and while we support it, we are not affiliated with the United States Postal Service® or Operation Santa ® Our mission is to increase public awareness of the program, recruit volunteers, and make needy children smile on Christmas. ©2016 Be An Elf - All rights reserved.


Help us bring smiles to needy kids on Christmas morning.

Only volunteers may contact us. Santa will not see your message here! If you're seeking gifts, here is the best place we know where you can write to Santa!



Get info about how you can send gifts directly to a needy child, and a reminder about this program next Christmas.

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