Dec. 11, 2020 -- For more than a century, children across the country have sent letters to Santa Claus through the United States Postal Service’s Operation Santa program. But this holiday season, those letters look a lot different.
Countless children have written Santa about the coronavirus pandemic, with some simply begging for an end to the virus and nothing else, according to photocopies shared to the USPS website.
“Dear Santa, I don't want anything for Christmas, but I would like to ask you if you can do me a favor,” a little boy named Jonah wrote. “Can you please find a cure for COVID-19 and give it to us to save the world. Thank you."
“This year has been tough on all of us due to COVID-19,” wrote 13-year-old Kimberly. “My stepdad is the only [one] working and because of COVID-19 he had to stop working full time. Now he is working less because of COVID, and all the money he gets is for paying the rent and the bills,” she continued. “I really hope you can help my family and I. I know it’s a lot but I really believe in you.”
“I’m sorry if I’ve been bad,” another little girl in Massachusetts confessed to Santa. “It’s really hard because of COVID-19, and online school (school in general). I’m trying to be good. Hope you understand.”
Andy, a 5-year-old in California, asked Santa for a Nintendo Switch to share with his little brother -- and for life to get back to normal. “I know it is a lot of money so it’s OK if we don’t get one,” he wrote. “Thank you, Santa! I wish COVID was over so we can hug.”
“COVID-19 resulted in job losses, temporary unemployment, and, sadly, the loss of family and friends,” Kim Frum, USPS senior public relations representative, told WebMD. “Couple that with devastation from natural disasters, and it’s easy to see why [the] USPS Operation Santa program is more important than ever.”
According to Frum, the program has always been about providing joy and holiday gifts for families in need -- a reality for many Americans in 2020. “This year, there are likely more families impacted financially and emotionally,” she said. “Being able to provide even the tiniest bit of normalcy or spark of happiness to those in need would mean the world to so many people right now.”
The Postal Service first started receiving letters to Santa Claus in 1912. Soon after that, employees and citizens were authorized to respond to the letters, paving the way for Operation Santa. Over the course of 108 years, the program has received hundreds of thousands of letters from children all over the U.S.
Nowadays, people can go online to look through the letters and “adopt” as many as they’d like. Last year, thousands of children’s letters were adopted, and more than 11,000 packages were sent in response. As of this week, nearly 18,000 letters to Santa have been adopted and more than 32,000 people have registered to adopt one.
Letters to Santa will be accepted through Dec. 15, and all envelopes must include Santa’s official mailing address (Santa Claus 123 Elf Road North Pole, 88888), a return address, and a stamp. Once Operation Santa receives a child’s letter, all personally identifiable information -- such as last name or address -- is hidden.
People have until Dec. 19 to adopt a letter, according to the USPS. Due to safety concerns, adopters need to be vetted by the Postal Service before they answer any mail. After a quick verification process, those who are greenlighted can mail their Christmas packages at their local Post Office, to remain anonymous. To learn more about adopting a letter, visit www.uspsoperationsanta.com.