If you’re looking to give back this holiday season, the United States Postal Service wants your help.
The Postal Service’s annual Operation Santa turns 111 years old this year, and for the very first time in the program’s history, the charitable event is starting before Black Friday.
Operation Santa is a yearly tradition in which children, individuals and families write letters to “Santa” in hopes of having some wishes fulfilled that might otherwise go unanswered.
The Postal Service screens the letters across the country and makes the senders eligible to receive a gift from a willing and giving participant. The letters are being reviewed and posted online and people can sign up to “adopt” one of the letters and make those dreams come true.
Letters need to be sent to “Santa’s U.S. workshop,” 123 Elf Road, North Pole 88888, with a legible and accurate return address to ensure senders are eligible to participate in the charitable event.
Those looking to give back can read the letters online now. If interested in signing up to adopt, volunteers can register and verify their identification with USPS to ensure that those who sign up to participate are legitimate.
Adopters can choose one or more letters to fulfill. Once chosen, they will be provided instructions on how to ship their gifts to their recipient.
And for the first time in the program’s history, participants can adopt a letter prior to Black Friday, allowing for shoppers to get quality discounts for their matched child or family.
While letters can be found online right now, those wanting to write in still have until Dec. 11; but time is of the essence.
The last day to sign up to give a gift is Dec. 18 — that’s also the latest date recommended for shipping gifts.
To save on shipping costs, the USPS recommends matching with a gift recipient near your location, and using a priority mail flat rate box which can be obtained for free at a local post office to make sure any gifts fit inside. Rates are dependent on an item’s weight, so shoppers should keep that in mind.
While you don’t need to use one of the priority flat rate boxes, you are required to ship your gift with Priority Mail status.
Gift cards will need to be shipped using a priority envelope.
The USPS also wants to remind the public that this is the only Operation Santa program sanctioned by the Postal Service.
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