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Holiday helpers

Operation Santa deadline approaches

Santa Claus and his helpers address attendees at a recent Operation Santa kickoff event at the Cardiss Collins Processing and Distribution Center in Chicago, where the in-person program receives 3,000-5,000 letters annually. From left are Customer Services Manager Janice Hall, the “chief elf” in Chicago; Santa, played by Eddie Spearman, a letter box mechanic; and Chicago Postmaster Wanda Prater.

There’s still time to help the less fortunate this holiday season through Operation Santa, but you must act soon.

The annual program allows families in need to write letters to Santa Claus for “adoption” by those who want to help. The deadline to adopt letters this year is Friday, Dec. 20.

Several versions of the program are available, including one that allows participants to read letters online and choose one or more to adopt, as well as in-person programs in New York City and Chicago.

The USPS Operation Santa website has more information, including instructions, gift-buying tips and advice on packing and shipping items.

More than 8,700 letters have been adopted online since this year’s program launched Nov. 18.

The letters received through Operation Santa are often touching and request basic necessities.

One letter reads: “I am hoping you can help my family this year. Within the last year my dad, who is a single parent, lost his job, and we lost our house since he couldn’t keep up with the bills.”

In another, a 13-year-old boy asks for clothing for himself and for his little brothers.

In addition to customers, the program receives support from USPS employees like Mark Wheeler, a Greater Michigan District operations programs support manager who attended a recent letter adoption event at the Grand Rapids, MI, Main Post Office.

“Operation Santa is a great reminder of what the season is all about and what great things we can do as an organization,” Wheeler said.

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