Kaden, a boy from California, doesn’t want much for Christmas this year: just a remote-controlled car, a green jacket and a coronavirus-free school year.
Kaden is one of thousands of kids who mailed their Christmas lists through USPS Operation Santa. The program, which has been running in some form for over 107 years, accepts letters from kids in need and matches them up with donors to make their holiday wishes come true.
And in 2020, kids have more than just toys on their Christmas lists, with many Operation Santa letters reflecting the hardships families are facing during the pandemic.
Lilly, a sixth grader from Maine, shared the toll the coronavirus has taken on her family.
“I have not had a good year,” the 11-year-old wrote in her letter to Mr. and Mrs. Claus. “My grandpa died and I could not see him because of covid. I miss him and his big hugs.”
Lilly went on to ask Santa for gifts for her family members, including earrings for her mom, games she can play with her dad, clothes for her sister and “Xbox stuff” for her brother. She also asked for “a doll that looks real” and a purple jacket for herself.
“Santa can you bring grammy a puppy so she is not so lonely?” she added.
Many children also put in requests to ease their parents’ financial stress. For instance, though 13-year-old Raymond from California confessed he “is not a believer,” he still asked Santa for gifts in order to help out his mom.
“I am asking you to help my mom for X-mas,” the child wrote in his letter. “Having us all home and not working do to covid we could use some help.”
Kids aren’t the only ones writing letters to Santa this year. Marilu, a mother of three in California, described in her letter how her husband, who stopped working due to the pandemic, is frequently in the hospital because of heart issues.
“This year has been really rough for us,” she wrote. “We have been struggling financially because of all the hospital bills & they just keep piling up. We would appreciate clothes & shoes. Those are essential.”
Matzy, a 5-year-old from Texas, let Santa know to expect more than just milk and cookies when he stops by her home this year.
“I hope you don’t get sick,” read her letter. “Matzy will give you cookies and milk and mommy Andrea will make a mask for you and rain deer.”
And many kids are also asking Santa to keep their loved ones healthy.
“I also wish for my friends and family to stay safe,” Jacqueline from California wrote at the end of her list. “And for my Abu not to get sick because I don’t want to lose her, not yet. Thank you for all the joy you have brought to the world and to my family. I Love you Santa.”
Those who still want to send a wish list as part of Operation Santa should address their letter to 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888 and include a return address and a stamp. Letters received before Dec. 15 will be uploaded online and made available for adoption.
Contributing: Associated Press