USPS Operation Santa ® sad letters to Santa will be up for adoption online soon – Volunteer for Christmas!

Guess who wrote to Santa? This little girl received gifts from USPS Operation Santa volunteers one Christmas Eve, with her sisters looking on. Smiles all around!


Woman crying in driveway
This single Mom cried in her driveway when gifts arrived unexpectedly on Christmas eve from volunteers. She said she had no money to buy her children gifts for Christmas. 
olunteers for USPS Operation Santa read letters at the Los Angeles post office.
Be An Elf recommends that friends team up to adopt one or more letters to Santa, and share the work, the fun, and the cost!
Patrick Reynolds, Chief Elf,, holds letters to Santa adopted by
Patrick Reynolds, Chief Elf at, holds letters to Santa adopted by the charity. 
“Some Operation Santa volunteers feel alone and sad over the holidays, and find comfort and inspiration volunteering for this program. It’s micro-philanthropy, direct from a volunteer to a child. People catch the true spirit of the holidays knowing they’ll put smiles on the faces of needy kids on Christmas,” says’s Patrick Reynolds.
Tips from Be An Elf
  • suggests smart gifts, like backpacks, school supplies, new (not used) clothes, books, and a small gift for the mothers, whom the site says are sometimes feeling sad over the holidays.
  • Pay special attention to the letters from parents, whose children may be too little to write their own letters. Letters listing their children’s names, clothing and shoe sizes, or mentioning employment and health challenges, are signs their family truly needs help for the holidays. gives needy kids a brighter Christmas!



Volunteer for Christmas from home! USPS Operation Santa ® to put letters to Santa from needy kids up for adoption online nationwide, starting November 29th
— Families seeking help with Christmas should mail in letters to Santa postmarked November 1 to December 10 —

— Public may register to adopt a letter starting November 15th —


Los Angeles – October 28, 2021 – Attention all Christmas volunteers! Starting November 29, USPS Operation Santa ® will permit the public to read and adopt letters to Santa from underprivileged children online. Christmas volunteers will be able to adopt children’s letters asking Santa for “a warm coat”, “new shoes,” and a favorite toy. Anyone can adopt the sad letters online from home, and mail their gifts directly to a low-income child or family.

The public may adopt the letters starting November 29. Starting the first week of November, the USPS will begin reading the letters to Santa, searching for ones from needy families to post online. Some letters posted by the USPS are written by struggling parents or caregivers whose kids are still too young to write. Volunteers may also adopt a family.

In order to be considered for posting, letters must bes postmarked November 1 to December 10th.

Some letters posted by the USPS are written by struggling parents or caregivers whose kids are still too young to write. Volunteers may also adopt a family.

The new Seeking Gifts? page at lets children and families know, “Santa has volunteers all across the US who want to send extra gifts to families having a hard time with money. These nice people are permitted to read children’s letters selected at a special website, where they can adopt the letters that touch their hearts the most.

“Postal staff put every letter right back in the mail and all get delivered to Santa at the North Pole.”

Some people feel alone and sad over Christmas, and find comfort and inspiration volunteering for this program. They catch the true spirit of the holidays knowing they will put smiles on little faces on Christmas.

The website provides an excellent guide to USPS Operation Santa ® for volunteers who want to send gifts, and to needy families who want help with Christmas. Those who don’t have time to shop and mail gifts may make a tax-deductible donation to Be An Elf online. The all-volunteer charity adopts letters from the USPS ® website, and as donations come in, uses contributions to send each family a Target gift card for $100. Be An Elf encloses a note saying simply, “This is for your kids. Love, Santa.” The charity trusts that the moms know best what their children want and need most.

To protect the privacy of children, the USPS redacts children’s family names and home addresses from all letters posted, and adds a special code to each letter. When the public adopts letters from home, they print out letters they adopt and a barcoded address label for each. They must then mail their gift cards or packages at any of 13,000 postal branches in the US that offer label scanning.

TIP For Christmas volunteers, suggests smart gifts, like backpacks, school supplies, and books, and inviting friends and families to join them — and share the work, the cost and the fun. There is also a page for companies,

TIP When letters from kids or parents ask for new shoes or list their children’s clothing sizes, that’s a sign they need help for the holidays.

While not affiliated with the USPS ®, Be An Elf is a tax-exempt 501c3 charity that has recruited thousands of volunteers for the Postal Service’s program since 2004.

Founder Patrick Reynolds received the Lifetime Achievement award for his work fighting tobacco use from President Obama in 2015.

Be An Elf is a tax-exempt charity founded by Mr. Reynolds in 2004 to create public awareness of the USPS Operation Santa ® program. The group supports Operation Santa ® by recruiting and offering tips to many new volunteers for it every year, and by recruiting needy families to write letters to Santa. A major grant from Google provides free advertising that brings thousands of people to the website every Christmas season.

The US Postal Service ® has not missed a year since first offering the children’s letters in 1912.

    Patrick Reynolds
    Be An Elf
    Source: Be An Elf


Help us bring smiles to needy kids on Christmas morning.

Only volunteers sending gifts should contact us. Santa will not see your message here! If you're seeking gifts, contact Santa's Christmas volunteers through our Writing to Santa page. If you want to give gifts, click below.


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Be An Elf is a tax-exempt 501c3 children's Christmas charity. Contributions are tax-deductible. We are not affiliated with USPS Operation Santa® but we support it by creating public awareness of the program online and in social media, by recruiting and orienting new volunteers to the program, and by offering tips to needy families writing to Santa. Be An Elf also uses donations to adopt letters to Santa and send gifts to the kids who wrote them. We will never share your info with third parties; see Be An Elf's privacy policy. ©2020 Be An Elf - All rights reserved.