In 2019, USPS ® Operation Santa has gone online, with 2 Branches accepting walk-in volunteers (New York City & Chicago)
ONLINE LETTER ADOPTION IS HERE!
After a successful pilot program last year, on November 18, 2019 the USPS Operation Santa ® program is launching online adoption of letters to Santa at its new website, USPSoperationsanta.com.
Volunteers across the nation will be able to read and adopt letters online, and send their gifts from any of 19,000 postal branches by December 20th, for delivery in time for Christmas.
HOW CAN I FIND A BRANCH WHERE I CAN MAIL MY GIFTS?
To find a post office that will accept the special address label you printed out along with the Santa letter you adopted online, follow these steps:
Go to USPS.com/locations. Wait to fill in your zip code; do this last.
Under Filtered by, select Post OfficesTM in the drop-down menu.
Under Services, select Label Broker in the drop-down menu.
Under Within, select the number of miles you’re willing to travel to find a “Label Broker” post office.
Finally, fill in your zip code and click on Search.
The results will show the postal branches closest to you offering the required “Label broker” service. The hours are the same as the hours they are open.
When you are ready to take your package/s to the post office for mailing, apply the label you printed out. But know that if you try to add postage at a branch without the “Label broker” service, you might be refused after waiting in a long line. The reason is, USPS employees are not permitted to place postage on packages without an address.
That’s why it’s best to only add postage until you are ready to mail your package at your local branch offering the “Label broker” service. They’ll recognize the shipping label and add postage there.
To protect the privacy of children, children’s family names and addresses are redacted from their letters, and a code is added to each letter. Volunteers are required to write that code on their packages, and mail their gifts from any of 19,000 US Post Offices that offer “Label Broker” as an on-site service. Package drop-off instructions will be printed out during the online letter adoption process at USPSoperationsanta.com.
Online volunteers must mail their gifts by December 20, but New York has extended the dates of its program, and Chicago may do so as well. See the bottom of this page, and check back for an update about Chicago.
IN 2019, LETTERS MAILED TO SANTA MAILED ONLY FROM THESE CITIES WILL BE POSTED ONLINE FOR ADOPTION.
HERE’S WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE NOW! IF YOU LIVE IN THESE CITIES, PLEASE DO THE FOLLOWING:
Most important, you can help get the word out to needy families with kids who live in the cities below, and let them know they really can write to Santa this year. First, print out 10 copies (or more) of the flyers the USPS has prepared to spread the word. Post them in local churches, on community bulletin boards, in markets in poor neighborhoods, even local orphanages and youth detention homes, in a Child Protective Services or local foster care agency office, and everywhere else you can think of. Be creative!
You’ll find some great flyers to print out at USPSoperationsanta.com/getinvolved/promote, and the page USPSoperationSanta.com/GetInvolved also has great info. It gives a preview of the new USPS website.
Equally important, if you live in any of the cities below, call or email the news tip lines and newsrooms at local TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers, and remind the “assignment editor” at each media outlet to search for a news release sent recently by the USPS. Send them a link to this page, and let them know the USPS needs support getting the word out to needy families in the cities below. The Postal Service has already sent a news release out to local media in each city on the list below, but too often news releases get lost or overlooked, or the editor may not realize that this is when the families seeking assistance for the holidays should be writing to Santa.
We hope a donor will come forward to fund our hiring a publicist to target media in the cities below with the message above. Be An Elf will shortly put out our own news release, and it will be posted at this site in our Press Room. For now, this page will act as a temporary release. Please pitch news editors in the cities below, and send them a link to this page!
We’re hoping for a contribution large enough to hire a top Hollywood public relations firm, ideally one on this list, to mount a publicity campaign to augment the USPS’ own campaign. The first release would target only media in the cities below, and be aimed at getting people in those cities who need assistance for the holidays to write to Santa.
Our second news release will be aimed at creating awareness of USPS Operation Santa ® program. We want to let more people know about it. With a top publicist who represents movie stars, we would likely be able to get a film star to volunteer to adopt a letter, and publicize it. The likely result would be be coverage for the USPS Operation Santa program in People Magazine, Access Hollywood, and many other entertaimment shows.
Be An Elf’s news releases simply urge the press to cover the great USPS program, and mention BeAnElf.org at the end of coverage, as an excellent guide to volunteering for the program. We’ll also mention our new Plan for Companies, to get corporations involved. We’re working on finalizing that now, and on drafting our first news release of the season.
If not enough families in need write to Santa, there may not be enough appropriate letters to adopt this year. The Postal Service is anticipating strong demand, now that the letters are online and accessible to so many Americans.
Our neediest families with kids need to know they can write to Santa, if they are living in the cities on the list below.
Only letters mailed in these cities, written by kids and parents who truly need assistance for the holidays, will be selected for posting online.
Once they are posted, their letters may be adopted by volunteers all across the USA. After a letter is adopted by one or hopefully two volunteers (we don’t know), it will likely be taken offline.
• Grand Rapids, Michigan
• Hatteras Island, North Carolina
• Los Angeles
• New York City
• Okracoke Island, North Carolina
• San Juan, Puerto Rico
• Washington D.C.
WHERE ARE THE WALK-IN BRANCHES THIS YEAR?
In 2019, volunteers may read letters in person at one branch in Chicago, and one in New York City.
Both permit the public to walk in and read letters at the branch, and both are also posting letters to Santa online.
• New York City
James A. Farley Post Office
421 8th Ave
New York, NY 10199
The machine may take a few rings to answer, but be patient!
Hours for reading / adoption of letters to Santa:
December 3 – 22, 2019
Monday – Saturday, 9am – 4pm
Thursdays only: 9am – 7pm
Last day for dropoff: December 22
Closed December 23 – 25th
December 26 – January 4th, 2019
9am – 4pm
Final day for dropoff: January 4th
Chicago District Post Office
433 W Harrison St
Chicago IL 60607
Lobby, 2nd Floor Mezzanin
We will update this page shortly with the Chicago branch’s 2019 schedule for reading / adoption / mailing of letters to Santa.
Thank you for being an Elf!
While you are waiting, we recommend that volunteer elves check out our How To Be An Elf page and do some planning. You’ll see tips like giving a holiday Elf party, and sharing the cost, the work with friends and neighbors. Wrapping gifts together over holiday cheer can be fun, and sharing the cost also helps. Indeed, the cost can run up to $100 per letter answered, if you send gifts to the siblings and the mom, too, which we recommend.
Another tip on the How To Be An Elf page: some volunteers answer multiple letters, and simply send families gift cards. They entrust the shopping to the Moms, who know what their kids need most.
Be An Elf uses tax-deductible donation to send a Target gift card to the family of every letter we adopt, with a card marked only, “From Santa.” We like their gift cards best, because at Target, parents are more likely to purchase gifts their kids need, like clothes, school supplies, as well as the gifts they want. Also, Targets are everywhere.
That’s why Be An Elf uses our tax-deductible donations to send Target gift cards to families whose letters we adopt. It also enables us to adopt many more Santa letters than in previous years. We have faith that the Moms know best what their kids need.
Please read our How To Be An Elf page for ideas for volunteering for this USPS tradition during the holidays.
We applaud the Postal Service for posting needy children’s Santa letters online. Starting November 18, 2019, go to USPSoperationsanta.com , and adopt a needy child’s letter to Santa!
Ho, ho, ho, and thanks for volunteering during the holidays this year!