Here's what actually happens to letters addressed to Santa at the North Pole

Talia Lakritz
·3 min read
letters to santa north pole
What happens to letters addressed to Santa? AP
  • The United States Postal Service has two ways of responding to letters to Santa.

  • Through Operation Santa, postal workers, members of the public, and organizations can "adopt" letters and either respond with a letter of their own or grant the child's wish.

  • Letters From Santa allows someone to write a response to a child's letter, send both to USPS, and get their letter stamped with a North Pole postmark before being delivered back to the child.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Every year, millions of children (and some adults) send letters to Santa Claus asking for Christmas presents. But what actually happens to letters addressed to Santa in the North Pole?

There are two ways that the United States Postal Service responds to these letters.

Through Operation Santa, members of the public and organizations can reply

santa letters operation santa
A volunteer walks past letters to Santa from children with gifts as she participates in the USPS' Operation Santa program in Chicago. M. Spencer Green/AP

The United States Postal Service began receiving letters to Santa over 100 years ago, a spokesperson for the USPS told Insider in a statement. In 1912, Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized postal workers and everyday citizens to respond to these letters.

When the amount of mail became too much for them to handle alone, the Postal Service enlisted charitable organizations and corporations to write replies and even opt to send gifts that children had asked for.

In 2017, Operation Santa went digital in seven cities, but is going nationwide for the first time in 2020. Aspiring Santas anywhere in the US can now browse people's letters online, select one they want to respond to with a note or a gift, and bring their response to a post office for delivery at a participating post office

Through Letters From Santa, someone in a child's life can include a response and send both letters to get a North Pole postmark

santa letter north pole
Letters to Santa get a special postmark. Al Grillo/AP

If you know a child who is sending a letter to Santa, you can write a response as Santa yourself and have the USPS deliver it as if it came from the North Pole, complete with a special North Pole postmark.

A spokesperson provided the following guidelines:

  1. Have the child write a letter to Santa and place it in an envelope addressed to: Santa Claus, North Pole.

  2. Write a personalized response to the child's letter and sign it "From Santa."

  3. Insert both letters into an envelope, and address it to the child.

  4. Add the return address: SANTA, NORTH POLE, to the envelope.

  5. Ensure a first-class mail stamp is affixed to the envelope.

  6. Place the complete envelope into a larger envelope with appropriate postage, and address it to:

ANCHORAGE AK 99530-9998

A letter simply addressed to "Santa, North Pole" will not go to the postmaster in Anchorage, Alaska. It will end up in a default area for mail without a complete address and then be sorted back into the Operation Santa program, where a postal worker or member of the public can respond.

Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, making a child feel special is a wonderful way to finish out the year.

Read the original article on Insider