Writing a letter to Santa is part of a holiday tradition for many North Carolina kids, but the miracle of him writing back is adding some extra sparkle to the season. How does the “big guy” find time to keep up with correspondence? He’s got some elves at the U.S. Postal Service.
“Operation Santa” has allowed Postal Service employees to write back to children who mail letters to Santa. Spokesperson Darleen Reid says by the 1940s, Santa’s mailbox had grown so full that with his permission, the Postal Service invited community groups to help by “adopting” letters.
“Some folks get very surprised. They get a response from Santa,” says Reid. “Some get a written response, some get a gift, some get a gift card. We let them choose how they’re going to respond.”
Anyone interested in helping with Operation Santa can visit USPS.com. Reid says the letters to Santa typically remain in the area from which they were mailed, and all personal information aside from the child’s age and what they are asking for is redacted.
While Santa is known for his jolly demeanor, Reid says helping him make holiday wishes come true can be heartbreaking, given the nature of some letters.
“The very first one that we read out loud was a child not asking for any toys, or electronics, or anything like that that you would expect. He asked for rice and beans,” she says. “So, a lot of the letters have great need and want.”
And that even includes touching letters from adults. Reid says some locations will be answering letters right up until today, even as Santa’s sleigh is preparing for takeoff.