The U.S. Postal Service Monday launched a new website that makes letters to Santa from needy kids available to members of the public.
Many of their letters ask Santa only for "a warm coat," "new shoes," and a favorite toy, according to a nonprofit that supports the effort.
In recent years the program has been available in under two dozen cities, but this year, the letters may be adopted in every U.S. city, thanks to a new USPS website, USPSoperationsanta.com.
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Volunteers may also read letters in person at one branch in Chicago, and another in New York City. To protect children's privacy, USPS staff redact last names and addresses from every letter. Gifts must be mailed by Dec. 20th, in time for delivery by Christmas.
Note: The letters featured in the above embed are from past years.
The U.S. Postal Service has made the children's letters available every December since 1912. It has been supported by Be An Elf, a tax-exempt charity founded by a volunteer, Elf Patrick. The site supports USPS Operation Santa by recruiting hundreds of new volunteers every year, encouraging media to cover the story, and by supporting those seeking assistance by offering them letter-writing tips. Be An Elf is not affiliated with the USPS, but its website serves as a guide both to volunteering for the program and for those seeking assistance. The group gets a major in-kind grant from Google in the form of free advertising.
Parents who are worried there won't be enough gifts for their children this year will find great tips at BeAnElf.org/writing-to-Santa. Volunteers who want to learn more should start with the home page at BeAnElf.org.
"Some Operation Santa volunteers feel alone and sad over the holidays, and find comfort and inspiration volunteering for this program. People catch the true spirit of the holidays and put smiles on the faces of needy kids on Christmas morning" says Be A Elf's Patrick Reynolds, who has the title of Chief Elf. He's a grandson of tobacco company founder R.J. Reynolds who became a smoke-free advocate after his father, R.J. Reynolds Jr., died from smoking. Patrick Reynolds received the Lifetime Achievement award in 2015 from President Obama for his work against Big Tobacco.