Operation Santa, the U.S. Postal Service program that allows individuals and groups to help needy children by answering letters addressed to Santa Claus, continues now through Dec. 22.

There are several ways to participate: through the main post office at 30th Street in Philadelphia; through a post office closer to your home in Pa. or N.J.; or through the nonprofit Dear Santa Society.

1. To work through the main post office in Phila., the Operation Santa desk is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. You must go in person and present identification.

2. To work with a post office near your house, go to www.usps.com and click on locate a post office. Enter your zip code and the addresses of 3 or 4 post offices pop up. But you need the phone number - so click on the address you want and another page pops up with the phone number. Then you can call and find out if that office is participating in Operation Santa, their hours, etc.

3. The Dear Santa Society is a local charity that has been answering the Postal Service's Operation Santa letters for more than a decade. And, because it is an officially registered nonprofit, the group is set up to accept donations of money, and provide receipts for later Federal Income Tax deduction.

Make checks payable to The Dear Santa Society

Box 123

Eagleville, Pa. 19408

4. Families in need (from Pa. or N.J.) may write to Operation Santa at the following address:

Operation Santa

c/o Postmaster

3000 Chestnut St.

Philadelphia 19104.

Be sure to include your name, address, phone number so your letter can be answered, and list the ages and names of children in the household, along with their specific wishes.

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