BRANDON, FL — The coronavirus pandemic could make the holidays particularly bleak for many U.S. kids and families.
As parents struggle with unexpected medical bills, job loss and food shortages, their children could also wake up on Christmas morning to discover Santa missed their homes.
It’s a devastating scenario for any parent or child; however, the U.S. Postal Service is hoping to help make the holidays a little more merry and bright for kids whose families have been affected by the pandemic or other hardships this year.
For the first time, the Postal Service is taking its Operation Santa program nationwide. The program, which dates back to 1912, encourages kids from across the country to write letters to “Santa.” Once the letters are received and posted online, others are encouraged to “adopt” and respond to one or more letters of their choosing.
“Through the years, the program grew and took on a life of its own,” the USPS wrote on its website. “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.”
Anyone in the United States is allowed to write a letter, regardless of religion or denomination, according to the Postal Service’s website. Letters requesting clothes and shoes should include sizes and colors. Those requesting toys, games and books should be specific.
How To Mail A Letter
1) Any family with a child who wants to write to Santa should use this “official” post office address:
Santa Claus, 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888
2) Write your full name and return address in the upper left corner of the envelope. Then, apply a first-class stamp in the upper right.
3) Letters will be posted to the USPSOperationSanta.com website. Letter adoptions open on Dec. 4.
4) Drop the letter off at your nearest Post Office.
1315 Oakfield Dr., Brandon, open Mon. through Fri., 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat., 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
For a full list of locations, visit Brandon U.S. Postal locator.
5) All letters should be received by Dec. 15. Once letters are received, they will be uploaded and made available for adoption. The sooner your letter is received, the more likely it is to be answered.
According to the Postal Service’s website, there will be no in-person letter adoptions this year due to the pandemic. Instead, participants are encouraged to share their personal experiences on social media using the hashtag #USPSOperationSanta.
More details on writing and adopting letters through the Operation Santa program can be found at USPSOperationSanta.com.
This article originally appeared on the Brandon Patch