Caribbean Letters To Santa Head to NYC
San Juan – Like so many of our neighbors here in the Caribbean, even Santa Claus needs a little help this year after the hurricanes.
The New York City-based OPERATION SANTA program is in its 105th year of operation. Operation Santa is an annual letter-writing program for individuals, businesses and charitable organizations to respond to children’s letters addressed to Santa Claus, the North Pole and other seasonal characters. While there are no promises that all letters will receive a response, many New Yorkers return to read letters and to respond to wishes.
The process is strictly monitored. No names are shared. Those who write letters, and those who respond, remain strictly anonymous. All items for shipping must be deposited with the Main Post Office in Manhattan, the only location which will have that mailing address.
All letters to Santa from Caribbean addresses collected through December 13 are being added to the New York program for consideration. Letters may be presented at local post offices or addressed to OPERATION SANTA, Postmaster, San Juan PR 00936 for consideration.
Also from the USPS:
As much as history reveals, the Postal Service began receiving letters to Santa Claus more than 100 years ago. However, its involvement was made official when in 1912 Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local Postmasters to allow postal employees and citizens to respond to the ever growing number of letters received every holiday season.
In the 1940s, mail volume for Santa increased so much so that the Postal Service extended the same invitation to charitable organizations, community groups and corporations to help respond to children who wrote letters to Santa.
This year, 2017, the Postal Service is celebrating the 105th anniversary of the Operation Santa program as it continues to fulfill the dreams of children nationwide. More than one hundred years later, postal employees, volunteers and organizations remain committed to making children’s Christmas wishes come true.
What We Do
The Postal Service has Operation Santa sites in action around the country. In the vast number of locations postal employees respond to the letters by providing a written response signed by Santa, while other Post Offices may work with local schools, municipalities and community groups who volunteer for the joyous task.
Each year, however, in select Post Offices the general public is invited to “adopt” Santa letters. In all locations where the public may adopt letters written to Santa, strict privacy guidelines are in place. Any member of the public choosing to adopt a letter may simply respond in writing or if they choose grant the wish, a decision that is left to the individual.
New York City’s Operation Santa serves as the largest public adoption Post Office in the country. A “Big Apple” tradition that has changed very little since the 1940s and one which continues to thrive in the heart of the Manhattan, much to the delight of those who visit the iconic James A. Farley building.
In 2006, national policy guidelines were created regarding the handling and adoption of letters addressed to Santa. These guidelines were designed to protect the children who wrote to Santa and mandated that individuals wishing to adopt letters must do so in person, present valid photo identification and fill out a form that includes the list of letters being adopted.
In 2009, the Postal Service changed the letter adoption process by redacting or blacking out all reference to the child’s address and assigning the letter a number. Individuals interested in adopting letters go to the post office, select the letter(s) and sign an official form. When the individual has fulfilled the child’s wishes, they return to the same post office with the letter and/or gift for mailing. A postal employee weighs the package and the individual pays for the postage, or a Priority Mail Flat Rate box could be used. Then a postal employee matches the number on the letter with the child’s address, prints and applies a label to the package and readies it for delivery. The individual never has access to the mailing address.
Children of all ages send letters to “Santa Claus, North Pole, Alaska” every year. Unless these letters contain a complete Alaska address, the letters will remain in the area they were mailed. Where available, these letters are routed to the nearest post office that coordinates responses, often in postal administrative sites like District Offices.
As time and resources permit, these offices help provide a written response to letters bearing a complete return address. While responses are not promised, the Postal Service understands that a letter to Santa is often a child’s first written correspondence. Through this seasonal outreach, the Postal Service helps to promote literacy and letter writing.
The Postal Service and its employees play important roles in communities around the nation. Postal employees live in the communities in which they work. Their children attend school there. They actively participate in community business, shop in its stores and patronize local restaurants. It makes perfect sense for postal employees to want to help their fellow citizens, especially during the holiday season.