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Letters to Santa: How Brazilian and American Post Offices are Making Dreams Come True

LTS-logo_101stBrazil’s post office has been doing the work of the one and only Santa Claus for twenty years. Over the past two decades volunteers read through the piles of letters to Santa from children all over the county. NPR wrote that the volunteers, “read the letters and look for something that really affects [them]. Then [they buy the] gift that the child asks for and bring it back to the post office, where staff wrap it up and deliver it to the child.”

But this decision on who to help is challenging for sure. An example would be the, “8-year-old boy who was asking for food. He didn’t want toys; he wanted food for his mother,” or “crack-addicted parents or jobs for unemployed relatives.”

“I cry reading the letters,” a volunteer said. “We try and help a little. If everyone helped a little, the world would be a better place.”

Personally, I love this concept. Not only does it help those in need, but it keeps the spirit and magic of the holiday season alive. After reading this story I thought to myself, “you know, they should do something like that here in the states.” And I was really surprised to find out … we do! I was completely taken aback that I did not know about the “Letters to Santa” program by the United States Postal Service which is all about, “delivering the holidays, delivering dreams.”

The USPS site states:

“The Postal Service’s Letters to Santa program is celebrating 101 years of helping make children’s holiday wishes come true.

Although USPS began receiving letters to Santa Claus more than 101 years ago, its involvement was made official in 1912 when Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized postal employees and citizens to respond to the letters.”

Yes, the USPS has been doing this for over a hundred years! Amazing. But again, I’m stunned I haven’t heard of it, or perhaps I had heard of it, but it just didn’t have much of an impact. This year I found out about it way too late in the game, but next year I’m going to play Santa via the post office. And it’s pretty easy. According to the post office’s website:

“Here’s how it works. A person wishing to adopt a letter can go to a Post Office, select one or more letters to take with them and sign the form. The child’s address on the envelope will have been blocked out and the letter assigned a number.

After the individual fulfills the child’s wishes with a gift, he or she returns with the letter and gift to the same Post Office and pays the postage for the package. A postal employee will match the number on the letter with the child’s address, apply a label to it and put the package in the mail stream.”

Have you heard of this program before? And if so, have you participated?

Photo Source: USPS

 

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