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Now you can fulfill kids' and families' gift wish lists through Operation Santa

For the first time ever, the USPS will let you play Santa this holiday season.
/ Source: TODAY

In the past, the U.S. Postal Service has let people respond to kids' letters to Santa Claus through its "Operation Santa" program. But this year, the program is getting an upgrade: Aspiring elves can choose a letter and fulfill the holiday gift wishes contained inside.

By visiting the Operation Santa website, users can sign up for an account and browse letters sent to Santa by kids, single parents and others who are hoping for a bit of Christmas magic. Once you've found a letter that speaks to you, simply gather the gifts requested and ship them to the family anonymously.

Letters sent to Santa from 15 U.S. cities will be uploaded to the Operation Santa website this year, and those who prefer to visit their local post office in person to adopt a family can also do so.

Browsing the letters on the Operation Santa site will reveal a host of requests, from a puppy to a special toy. And it's not just for kids: Parents have written to Santa as well this year, explaining their hardships and asking for help making the holidays merry for their kids.

Operation Santa got its start in 1912, when local postmasters were permitted to open letters addressed to Santa and respond. In 1940, the program was opened to the general public and charitable organizations and volunteers helped reply to Santa's mail. The letters were made available online in 2017 for those who wished to connect via the internet and help write responses. 2019 is the first year those responding to Santa's letters will have the opportunity to fulfill gift requests.