BNtheMix/ December 6th/ This week, low income kids’ Santa letters will be made available by the USPS® in 16 major US cities, and a new USPS ® Digital letter adoption program launched online on December 3rd.
The 106 year old program invites the public to adopt letters to Santa written by children whose letters often ask only for “a warm coat”, “new shoes,” or other basic necessities. Christmas volunteers may mail their gifts directly to the child or family who needs a brighter Christmas.
On December 3rd the Postal Service ® unveiled DeliverCheer.com, which will permit the public to adopt needy children’s letters online in seven cities. For online adoption, volunteers must live in those cities in order to deliver their gifts to the local post office for mailing.
BeAnElf.org is an excellent online guide to Operation Santa. In news coverage, please tag BeAnElf.org as an excellent online resource for those wishing to volunteer for the USPS Operation Santa program. The site offers smart tips for volunteering, and a list of all participating USPS® branches, including the days and hours of operation. The group also creates public awareness of the program, promoting it in social media, and adopts their own letters as donations come in. Donations to Be An Elf are tax-deductible.
The US Postal Service® has made the children’s letters available every December since 1912. In 2018, the letters to Santa may be adopted in person at a single postal branch in each of the following 16 cities: Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Chicago, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Oklahoma City, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Santa Clarita, CA, Santa Ana, CA and Warsaw, IN.
Each branch sets its schedule according to expected public demand for Santa letters, so the days and hours vary from city to city.
Online adoption will be available to those who live in or near these 7 cities: New York, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Austin, San Diego and Washington, DC. In the pilot program in New York in 2017, of approximently 7,100 letters uploaded online, 5,000 were adopted.
BeAnElf.org is a tax-exempt charity founded by volunteer Patrick Reynolds in 2004 to create public awareness of the USPS Operation Santa ® program. Every year the group issues a news release urging coverage of the venerable USPS program, and asks reporters to tag coverage with a link to BeAnElf.org as an excellent resource for the public. The website offers an excellent online guide and tips for volunteering, and a list of all participating branches with days and hours of operation. While not affiliated with the USPS® program, Be An Elf supports Operation Santa® by recruiting hundreds of new volunteers for it every year.
Mr. Reynolds is a grandson of tobacco company founder RJ Reynolds, makers of Camel, but received the Lifetime Achievement award in 2015 from President Obama for his work against Big Tobacco. He says, “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. It’s micro-philanthropy, direct from a volunteer to a child.”
One tip Be An Elf offers is to give a holiday party at which friends and neighbors are invited to bring gifts for kids, and share the gift wrapping. Another tip suggests volunteers can adopt multiple letters by mailing gift cards from Target or Costco, and letting the kids’ Moms do the shopping for their families. Companies may adopt up to 100 letters to Santa, and distribute them to committees of interested employees.
BeAnElf.org suggests smart gifts like backpacks, school supplies, new clothes, books, and a small gift for the mothers, whom the site says are sometimes feeling sad over the holidays. The site notes that some moms also write to Santa, listing their children’s clothing and shoe sizes.