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WASHINGTON, D.C. — A warm, heartfelt nationwide Christmas tradition running more than a hundred years is already well underway for 2021.

According to the U.S. Postal Service’s website, “Operation Santa” started around 109 years ago when letters to Santa started pouring in from kids across the country. But it wasn’t until 1912 that Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local Postmasters to allow postal employees and customers to respond to those letters.

A small act of kindness that has led to a holiday program benefitting deserving kids and families throughout the country.

The USPS says the tradition only turned nationwide in 2020. This year, they’ve already received more than 100,000 letters from kids across the nation, writing to Santa with their Christmas wishes. The problem? They need replies.

Helpers are needed to “adopt” letters to make sure those kids can get what they ask for this Christmas.

Through an online portal, Santa’s helpers (that’s you) can read the scanned letters and pick one – or a few – gifts they will take on for that child.

Everything is confidential; all that’s known by those who adopt the letters is the name of the child and the state they live in.

The rest is up to the USPS, who says they will make sure Santa knows exactly where each toy needs to go.

A representative with the Postal Service for the Huntsville area says since the pandemic, requests from kids across the nation have gotten selfless. She adds anyone that can should read these letters.

“There are many letters that will just pull at your heart strings! You wish you could adopt everybody but we do limit it to 6 letters per person,” says Debra Fetterly, USPS Strategic Communications Specialist. “We have a lot of generous people, especially in [the Huntsville] area, so we’re looking forward to every letter getting adopted.”

Letters need to be adopted by December 14. For gifts to make it to the North Pole on time, they should be wrapped and in the mail by December 18.

Information on how to address the letter is on the USPS website.

Children who want to write a letter with their Christmas wishes will need to hurry – the deadline is December 10. Their letter can be mailed to 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 888-88.

To see the scanned letters that need adopting or for more information on the special tradition, visit the USPS website here.