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The North Pole could use some more of Santa's little helpers — this year as much as ever. And the U.S. Postal Service is stepping in to help.
Continuing a 105-year-tradition, the USPS launched another season of its Operation Santa program, calling on volunteers to "adopt" deserving children and families who have written to Santa Claus and respond.
The volunteer elves provide a written response to hopeful kids, signed by St. Nick. And this year, the program will include letters sent in from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
And that's not the only change this year: As part of a pilot program, New York-area volunteer elves can sift through digital letters via the USPS Operation Santa website at delivercheer.com.
In other areas, helpers can visit a local post office to pick up a letter, though some offices have a deadline of Dec. 8.
Letter senders have also been encouraged to share their experience on social media with the hashtag, #LettersFromSanta.
The post office first put its stamp on the holiday season in 1912, when Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock initiated the program to deal with the large volume of letters that children wrote to Santa.
One thing has remained a constant after all these years: the crowd-sourcing of goodwill for a good cause.
“You know you have these parents and grandparents who are taking care of families of 6 or 8 and they just don’t know what else to do,” Kim Olive, a volunteer for the past four years, told New York's WPIX-11.