Feeling like Santa’s elf this year? Here’s one way to help out

Have you ever wondered how Santa can read letters from every child out there? Truth is, he needs help.

The U.S. Postal Service is hoping you can pick up some of the slack this year. Through Operation Santa, you can be one of Santa’s elves, adopt a letter from a child or family in need, or help Santa make sure no kids are missed this year.

Eric Michael Cap is a volunteer with BeAnElf.org and has been doing it for a few years.

“On Christmas Day, a child’s going to be opening a gift that he or she’s maybe not expecting, and there’s going to be a big grin on his or her face,” Cap said. “For me, that’s what Christmas is about. It’s about giving. I love it. I love it!”

One example of a letter sent to the “elves” from a girl named Amy about her brother. (BeAnElf.org)
An image of a letter sent to the “elves.” (BeAnElf.org)
A U.S. Postal Service worker reads a letter from a child in need. (BeAnElf.org)
An archive photo of a family receiving gifts from an “elf.” (BeAnElf.org)
An archive photo of an “elf” talking with a parent who received gifts from the “Be An Elf” program. (BeAnElf.org)

Quick tip: Though a lot of the neediest individual letters have already been adopted, you can scroll through the “families” tab to see families that still have a lot of needs this year.

Also, shop fast! Those gifts need to be in to the post office by Dec. 21.

The USPS launched its annual gift-giving effort in November. It was so successful that the USPS actually ran out of letters at one point.

When the Postal Service gets a letter addressed to Santa (at 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888), it’s scanned, personal information is removed and it’s uploaded to its website for people to read.

Letters are then “adopted” by people, and wishes are fulfilled.

USPS first launched Operation Santa in 1912, when then-Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local postmasters to open up letters to Santa for employees to read and respond to.

It was opened to the public in the 1940s, went digital in 2017 and expanded in 2019.

WTOP’s Will Vitka contributed to this report. 

Michelle Murillo

Michelle Murillo has been a part of the WTOP family since 2014. She started her career in Central Florida before working in radio in New York City and Philadelphia.

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