Play Santa through U.S. Postal Service letter operation

Santa Claus has a few extra helpers this year — actually more than a half-million helpers, all of whom work at the U.S. Postal Service, an organization that has been collaborating with Mr. Claus and his North Pole-based operation for more than 100 years.

“The post office has been working with Santa for 107 years now,” said Marble Falls Postmaster Steve Lilley. “We are Santa’s helpers. We get his letters to him, and we help him deliver on those letters.”

The original program began in 1912 when Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local postal employees to respond to letters from Santa. By the 1940s, the volume of letters had grown so much that charitable organizations were asked to help respond.

Two of the largest, longest-running delivery operations in the world, Mr. Claus and the USPS this year launched a new website to make tracking and answering letters to the North Pole easier than ever. The website also makes it easier for anyone to become one of Santa’s elves and bring holiday cheer to children across the country.

“All you have to do is go to USPSOperationSanta.com and adopt a letter,” Lilley said. “You can then bring a reply or a box of gifts to the your nearest post office and have them shipped.”

Adoptees pay for the postage, but only the post office (and Santa) know the names and addresses of recipients.

“You’ll get a bar code to bring with you to the post office when you mail the letter,” Lilley explained. “That’s for security.”

Although kids have traditionally sent their letters to Santa addressed simply to the North Pole, the Jolly Old Elf actually does have an address:

123 Elf Road

North Pole 88888

Letters to Santa must be enclosed in an envelope and have postage. A return address is necessary for a response as well.

Don’t worry about getting that address just right, Lilley said.

“Envelopes addressed to Santa at the North Pole will find their way to the right place,” he said.

Anyone wanting to help answer and/or fulfill letters can visit USPSOperationSanta.com and pick a letter. The program, which began November 18, runs through December 20, the deadline for mailing first-class domestic ground in time for it to be received by Christmas Day.

While only 15 cities are included in this year’s program launch, one of those cities is Austin, which will take Santa letters from the Highland Lakes.

The process begins by visiting USPSOperationSanta.com. Each customer will be asked to register and log in to browse through and choose letters.

“The mission of USPS Operation Santa is to provide a channel where people can give back and help children and families — enabling them to have a magical holiday when they otherwise might not,” reads a media release from the postal service.

USPS Operation Santa is a program that helps bring Christmas magic to life, one letter at a time.

suzanne@thepicayune.com

2019 USPS holiday mail-by dates

To assure delivery by December 24, mail packages based on type of service by these dates.

DOMESTIC

USPS Retail Ground — December 14

First-class mail — December 20

Priority Mail — December 21

Priority Mail Express — December 23

TO ALASKA & HAWAII

USPS Retail Ground — December 2

First-class Alaska — December 18

First-class Hawaii — December 19

Priority Mail — December 19

Priority Mail Express — December 21

FOR MILITARY (APO/FPO/DPO) AND INTERNATIONAL DEADLINES VISIT USPS.com.

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