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USPS Operation Santa | Sending and adopting Christmas wish lists

The Postal Service's Operation Santa allows children and families to write to him, with individuals and organizations adopting letters and thoughtful gifts.

You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I'm telling you why... Santa Claus is looking for helpers to grant gift wishes.

For the first time, USPS Operation Santa is national, allowing children and families to write letters to the big man. Individuals and organizations are able to "adopt" letters and send responses and thoughtful gifts in his place. 

Those looking to send a letter to Santa can do so by writing to the address below:

SANTA CLAUS
123 ELF ROAD
NORTH POLE 88888
 

The sender's name and address should be added to the upper left corner with a first-class stamp in the upper right corner. 

The Postal Service says it's received thousands of letters that can't be shared online because they don't have return addresses. USPS reminds letter writers to make sure it has a return address and to be specific with sizes, color and type of toy, game or book. 

Letters received before Dec. 15 will be uploaded to the USPS Operation Santa website, where people will have the opportunity to adopt the letters. New letters arrive and are added every day, so check back if all wishes have been adopted.

Adopting a letter

For those looking to adopt a letter, the website features scanned ones from individuals and families across the country. 

After creating an account and selecting a letter, an individual can choose how they want to fulfil the request. However, any written correspondence should come from Santa and wrapping gifts is optional. USPS asks that all gifts are shipped by Dec. 19 at a participating Post Office location so they arrive by Christmas.

Those with questions on how the process works can visit the FAQ section on Operation Santa's website.

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The tradition dates back to 1912, when Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock allowed local postmasters to open up Christmas letters and for employees to read and respond to children. Later in 1940, the program was made public and allowed for charities, corporations and any other people to respond and grant Christmas wishes. 

The online program started in New York in 2017. Anyone in the U.S. can now fulfill a letter's wishes through the nationwide program. 

Credit: AP
This image released by IFC Films shows a scene from the documentary "Dear Santa." (IFC Films via AP)

This year Operation Santa coincides with a new documentary about the program called “Dear Santa,” out Friday from IFC Films.

The documentary takes viewers inside the operation showing the kids writing the letters, Santa’s helpers (the postal workers who sort and categorize them) and the adoptees who go out and purchase the gifts asked for. 

People on social media have been sharing images of the letters to Santa, with children asking for everything from Gucci clothes and a door-hanging basketball hoop, to warm clothes after a parent's death and a cure for the coronavirus pandemic.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.