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USPS 'Operation Santa' now accepting Christmas lists for kids in need

Volunteer 'elves' fulfill holiday wishes big and small for children who write letters to Santa through the 'Operation Santa' program.

We've reached November, which means Santa is now officially accepting letters at the North Pole. 

The United States Postal Service announced Monday that it would begin accepting letters for its "Operation Santa" program which matches wish-fulfilling volunteers with young letter-writers.

The holiday initiative started in 1912, when Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock allowed local post offices to share letters addressed to Santa with employees and volunteers, according to USPS.

By the 1940s, as the number of letters increased, the Post Office Department engaged community groups to help respond to the messages and send small gifts, the Postal Service said. 

Last year, USPS premiered an online database that allows volunteers nationwide to respond to letters and mail gifts. 

Some of the requests from letter-writers last year tugged at the heartstrings, like Joshua, who told Santa: “If I have to choose a gift, it would be a donation to a charity, a homeless shelter, a public library, anything is fine. Because what’s a better gift than peace and joy on earth?” according to USPS. 

The Postal Service has a few guidelines for writing letters to Santa. 

First, you'll need his address: 

Santa Claus
123 Elf Road
North Pole, 88888

Then, make sure the envelope has a First-Class Mail Forever stamp and a full return address. Without a return address, volunteers cannot send a reply. 

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Letter-writers should be specific in their requests, and include any applicable sizing information, favorite color, book or toy preferences, etc. 

Mail must be postmarked by Dec. 10 and the letters will be scanned and posted on the USPS portal on Dec. 15 for "adoption" by volunteers. Identifying information like last names and addresses is redacted before the letters are uploaded. 

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If you are interested in replying to the letters, you can register here beginning Nov. 29 to be a letter adopter.