Sixty-six children from Ocracoke and Hatteras islands have written to the jolly old elf through the U.S. Postal Service’s Operation Santa program, now in its 107th season of helping bring Christmas to cheer to those in need.
The program, available only in select areas, added the two Outer Banks communities following Hurricane Dorian.
The postal service began receiving letters to Santa Claus more than 100 years ago. In 1912 Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local postmasters to allow postal employees and citizens to respond to the letters — a program that eventually became known as Operation Santa.
In the 1940s, mail volume for Santa increased so much that the Postal Service invited charitable organizations and corporations to participate by providing written responses and small gifts.
Through the years, the program grew and took on a life of its own. Today, customers can go online to browse through the letters and if one touches them, they can adopt it and help the child have a magical holiday.
There’s still time to adopt letters from Outer Banks children. Letters should be adopted and donations taken to a local post office by Dec. 20 to make sure gifts arrive in time for Christmas, Charlotte USPS spokesman Philip Bogenberger said.
Customers can adopt letters to Santa online at USPSOperationSanta.com. Though the letters can be adopted online, the person donating must go to a post office that offers “Label Broker” as an on-site service to send the gift. Adopters can find qualifying Label Broker™ Post Offices by visiting the Post Office™ Locator usps.com/locator.
The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.