USPS helps get letters to Santa

Published 11:00 pm Friday, December 7, 2012

The Postal Service expects to deliver more than 15.2 billion cards, letters and packages this holiday season and many of those will be letters to the big guy at the North Pole.

And USPS elves are standing by to help enrich the Christmas experience for boys and girls by delivering a personalized letter from Santa Claus. It’s part of the “Letters from Santa” campaign and the letters must be postmarked no later than Dec. 10 to ensure the special delivery to children happens before Christmas.

Here’s how it works. Parents or guardians are asked to write a letter to a child from Santa Claus and sign it “From Santa.” Insert the letter in an envelope addressed to the child with the return address, “SANTA, NORTH POLE.” Also place a first-class stamp on the envelope. Then, place that envelope inside a larger one with appropriate postage and mail it to: North Pole Postmark, Postmaster, 4141 Postmark Drive, Anchorage, AK 99530-9998.

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Santa’s helpers in Anchorage will take care of the rest!

In addition to the “Letters from Santa” campaign, the USPS also participates in a “Letters to Santa” annual letter-writing campaign where individuals, businesses and charitable organizations respond to children’s letters addressed to Santa Claus, the North Pole and other seasonal characters.

“The ‘Letters to Santa’ program has made dreams come true for those in need for 100 years,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. “This is a time to celebrate how postal employees, charitable organizations, businesses and others have made a difference in the lives of children coast to coast.”

Unless letters to Santa have a complete Alaska address, they stay in the area where they were mailed and postal “elves” go through the letters.

According to the USPS, the post office began receiving letters addressed to Santa Claus more than 100 years ago, but it wasn’t until 1912 that Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized postal employees in New York City to respond to the letters, and invited the people of New York to join in, through a program that came to be known locally as “Letters to Santa.” In New York City, alone, more than 500,000 letters are responded to each year.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.