Just a pillow from Santa is enough for some children, postal workers find with Operation Santa

Acting Postmaster Beth Jungels reads some of the letters that children have sent to the Syracuse Post Office. The names in front of her are those of the USPS employees and citizens who have volunteered for Operation Santa. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Postal Service)

This year, Acting Postmaster Beth Jungels of the Syracuse Post Office decided to participate in the Operation Santa program to help bring joy to children during the holiday season. She was surprised at how simple some of their request to Santa were.

Operation Santa began in 1912 when the Postmaster General authorized local postmasters to allow USPS employees and citizens to respond to children’s letters.

“I cannot tell you how much of a rewarding experience this has been for me to be able to participate in such a worthy cause. I’ve had tears in my eyes as I read many of the letters submitted. My heart goes out to those children who are just asking for a pillow or simply a towel and a washcloth,” said Jungels.

In 2009, the Postal Service changed the letter adoption process by blacking out all reference to the child’s address and assigning the letter a number. Individuals interested in adopting letters, go to the Post Office, select the letter(s) and sign the form.

“All the letters have been submitted by the children through the mail,” explained Jungels. The program is completely anonymous so the adopted families or children are never known by the individual or organization that is sending the gifts or letters to them. Each individual or organization can come in and view the letters in my office, and select one that touches their heart or sparks an interest into what they want to give,” she said.

Operation Santa in Syracuse started Dec. 1 and continues through Friday.

“We cut off on Dec. 15, so each of Santa’s helpers had time to finalize their purchases or letters, wrap the gifts and send them out by Wednesday, Dec. 20 so we could get them to the families and children before Christmas,” Jungels said.