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.
USPS Operation Santa ® just launched a new website making the letters available online nationally for the first time. At USPSoperationsanta.com 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 coded 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. If you’re writing to Santa seeking assistance, see our Writing to Santa page, and note Santa’s new address!
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 are also on our Locations page.
After scanning children’s letters and posting them at the site, of course USPS elves send every letter on to Santa at the North Pole. If you have kids yourself, explain to them you want to help Santa out by sending some children extra gifts, because their parents can’t buy much for them this year. Assure them they’ll get Santa’s gifts, 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.
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 this year.
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 offering tips for low-income families to write effective letters. Be AnElf.org 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 BeAnElf.org 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 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, BeAnElf.org, 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.