Writing letters to Santa has been a longstanding tradition for families, but it wasn't until 1912 that Santa's crew teamed up with the U.S. Postal Service to form "Operation Santa."

The program helps less fortunate children and families during the holidays by processing hundreds of thousands of letters to Santa and allowing people across the country to "adopt" a letter and answer the wish inside.

"Since it began, millions of less fortunate children and their families have been helped by the kindness of others," according to the USPS. "The program is for every person of every belief, or non-belief. The purpose is to help as many deserving families as possible."

Letters are being accepted now until Dec. 15. To participate as a possible gift recipient, one must write a letter, put it in a stamped envelope with a return address and send it to Santa Claus, 123 Elf Road, North Pole 88888.

"The letters are opened by Santa's Elves and, for safety reasons, all personally identifiable information of the letter writer is removed," according to the USPS. The letters are then uploaded to USPSOperationSanta.com for adoption, which starts Dec. 4.

Potential adopters can read the letters and pick one or more to fulfill. For security purposes, adopters are vetted through a short registration and ID verification process before they can adopt. Companies are also encouraged to support the program by forming teams and adopting several letters.

"Let's face it, this year has been a struggle for so many people in more ways than one," the USPS said in a release about this year's program. "Thoughts of kids, the holidays and wondering how to provide for them may also be weighing heavily on many."

USPS notes not all requests will be from children or for items that can fit neatly in a box. Some people may request help getting "heat and electricity, a job opportunity, a medical procedure or a roof over their heads. If you have the skill, occupation or service to address such requests, a USPS representative will reach out after you adopt the letter."

Visit USPSOperationSanta.com for more information about the program and how to participate.

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