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 USPS ® 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 is making the letters available nationally for the first time, and will officially launch a new website, on November 18. Volunteers all across the nation will be able to read and adopt letters online, and print out the letters and an address label with a barcode. (To protect children’s privacy, USPS ® staff redact family names and addresses from every letter and put a code its place.) Later volunteers may mail their gifts from any of 19,000 postal branches; see our Locations page for details. Gifts must be mailed by December 20th, in time for delivery by Christmas.

Volunteers may also read letters in person at one branch in Chicago, and a branch in New York City. The addresses and schedule for those branches is on our Locations page.

While you are waiting for November 18th, to volunteer more effectively, look around this site and learn more about the program.

To be sure, after scanning the children’s letters and posting them at the site, the post office sends every original letter on to Santa at the North Pole. (He has a new address, which you’ll find on our Writing to Santa? page.) If you have kids yourself, explain to them you’re helping Santa out by sending children extra gifts, because their parents can’t buy much for them this year — and of course they’ll get Santa’s gifts, too!

We invite you to make a tax-deductible gift at this site online, and help us send gifts to more kids this year. Be An Elf adopts letters every year according to the donations that we raise. We select 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.

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 letting the public know when and how they can volunteer. This site 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 program. Others have families and bring their older 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!

NOTE: Since we made our video just below 3 years ago, Operation Santa has changed. Most of the program is now online, and only two branches remain with the traditional walk-in program, in New York City and Chicago. Although the program has evolved and improved since this video was made, it still captures the essence and heart feelings of the program. That’s why we are leaving it up. And all the information at this website accurately reflects the new Operation Santa, which, since going mostly online, now has real potential to reach millions more volunteers than before. We hope you’ll enjoy our video below. 

Be An Elf is a tax-exempt children’s charity, and while we are not affiliated with the United States Postal Service® or Operation Santa ®, Be An Elf supports the wonderful USPS ® program in several important ways. First, we create public awareness of the Operation Santa ® program, and recruit new volunteers who adopt their own letters to Santa. Volunteer Elves read and select Santa letters online in select US cities, and in 2019 they can volunteer in person at 2 post offices, in New York City and Chicago, and then send their gifts directly to the children or parents who wrote asking for assistance.

You may obtain the letters to Santa only through the USPS Operation Santa ® program.

At our How to be an Elf page, near the top you’ll find a link to the most current National Directory of Operation Santa ® postal branches.

If there is no participating city near you, this site offers excellent Other Ways to Be An Elf — or you may help us adopt more letters by making a gift online at this site. The more we raise, the more letters we will adopt!

Some volunteers feel alone and sad over the holidays, and find comfort and inspiration being part of this program. Others have families and bring their older kids to teach them the meaning of Christmas.

The USPS ® makes the Santa letters available to the public every year. Come alone or bring friends and family, and Be An Elf!

The excellent tips on our How to be an Elf page include hosting a small Christmas gathering, and sharing the work, the cost and the fun with friends and neighbors. Volunteer Elf Lauren in Brooklyn, NY, gave a Be An Elf party and asked her friends to bring a gift or contribute toward the cost, and they wrapped the gifts together. At our How to be an Elf page you’ll find other great tips, too, like our suggestions for gifts to buy for children.

Please share this site on Facebook or tweet it using the icons at the top. If you like, start with one of our sample Great tweets and posts.

Be An Elf’s mission is to make more underprivileged children smile on Christmas morning, and to inspire people with the real spirit of Christmas. The USPS ® started their wonderful program in 1912, and since then they have never missed a year.

If you can’t volunteer to adopt a letter to Santa and send gifts, please donate online to Be An Elf or give by check to support our group’s gift giving and mission.

Your gift will be used to send gifts to needy families, create public awareness of the program and to recruit new volunteers for the Operation Santa ® program. Together we can bring joy to more children in real need on Christmas morning.

Support our mission! Post on your Facebook page, donate online and volunteer to Be an Elf!

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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