USPS kicks off Operation Santa in downtown Chicago

By Beth Werge

The U.S. Postal Service is back to serving as Santa’s elves for yet another year through their annual Letters to Santa program. They held a kickoff event at the downtown Chicago post office at 433 W. Harrison St on Wednesday.

Here’s how it works: kids, adults, and whole families – often from under-served communities – write letters to Santa in Alaska or the North Pole, and drop them in USPS mailboxes. Those letters that aren’t actually addressed to a specific person’s address or destination stay in the area. Then postal ‘elves’ sift through the thousands of letters, sorting by gender and number of people each letter was written by, and take out all personal information to protect the writers’ privacy. They put copies of the letters into baskets, where post office visitors can pick a letter of their own and make Christmas for a stranger.

Just a day after its 2014 opening, the program saw 600 letters picked up and more than 3,000 letters sorted. Celebrating 102 years in the United States, the program is popular among millions and spreads holiday cheer across multiple major cities in America.

This year’s Operation Santa will continue through Dec. 19. For more information, visit