The United States Postal Service Friday launched its 108th annual USPS Operation Santa, which allows the public to grant wishes of deserving children and families in need of holiday gifts.
Potential "adopters" can visit USPSOperationSanta.com, read through the letters, pick one or more wishes they would like to fulfill and follow the directions on how to grant that child's wish.
Those who want to participate must be vetted by going through a short registration and ID verification process before they are allowed to "adopt" a letter.
All personally identifiable information of the letter writers are removed, and the potential adopters are urged to remain anonymous since the gifts are "from Santa, after all," according to the Postal Service. The gifts need to be taken to a post office by Dec. 19 so they can be delivered in time for Christmas.
Be An Elf -- a Playa del Rey-based nonprofit organization that is not affiliated with the Postal Service -- noted that those who don't have time to shop for and mail gifts can make a tax-deductible donation online at www.BeAnElf.org. The charity then uses online donations to "adopt" Santa letters that ask for basic needs, with the goal of sending each family a Target gift card for $100.
Operation Santa began accepting letters Nov. 16 for this year's campaign and will continue uploading letters to its website through Dec. 15.
Those who want to be considered as a potential gift recipient are asked to write a letter, put it in a stamped envelope with a return address and send it to Santa's official workshop address: Santa Claus 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888.
The gift drive was launched in 1912 by U.S. Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock, who authorized local postmasters to allow postal employees and citizens to respond to letters to Santa.