By Jennifer R Jones | Posted on December 10, 2009 11:00 AM
Yes, even in this cynical age kids still really do write letters to Santa--and many of them even get answered. Thanks to Operation Santa, which runs in New York City as well as other spots around the country, numerous volunteers answer children’s’ letters addressed to jolly old Saint Nick. The program has been around, in one form or another, for almost 100 years; it offers both individual members of the public as well as charitable organizations the opportunity to answer the missives. The program in New York City is the largest in the country—thousands and thousands of people answer letters each year, an estimate put the responses in New York alone at 500,000 last year. This year’s program was kicked off last week at the James A. Farley Post Office on Eighth Avenue, hosted by the Postmaster General, and, even more impressive, by Muppets Fozzie Bear and Kermit the Frog; it runs until Christmas Eve. (Visit usps.com for information on how to participate, or head right to the Farley post office, the main post office in New York.) Kids’ last names and addresses are removed and replaced with a code readable only by post office computers to prevent any issues; new privacy rules were put into effect last year. (A registered sex offender was found to have "adopted" one of the letters in past years; the program was temporarily shut down and new rules put into effect.) Many of the kids who write in are from underprivileged families, and responding to their letters gives them a shot at gifts they might not otherwise receive. And if that’s not enough to get you involved, remember this: The United State Post Office receives not one penny of tax money to fund its operations.