This is the best time of the year. Getting together with family, friends and loved ones is always the best part of any holiday. But for some, especially kids, the best part is coming down Christmas morning to see gifts under the tree.

Some families, however, don't have that luxury and must choose between food on the table or a present under the tree.

This year, that's where you come in. Since 2017, when the U.S. Postal Service announced USPS Operation Santa, it has grown exponentially. Now, in 2021 with all of the other craziness that's been going on over the last two years, there are more and more families in need of some help for the holidays.

Operation Santa is a program where families in need can write letters to Santa, the USPS will then post those letters on their website, and you can pick a letter (or letters) to go shopping for. Last year, Operation Santa helped out more than 20,000 families.

The mission of Operation Santa is: "The United States Postal Service is responsible for the nation’s letters. Thousands are sent to Santa and the North Pole each year. The mission of the USPS Operation Santa program is to answer these letters.

Anyone in the United States can write a letter to Santa, no matter their religion or denomination. While it’s helped thousands of families across the U.S., the program is not a 501(c)(3) non-profit or charity organization, nor is it associated with any partners."

If you're a family in need, here's how to get involved.

1. Gather your supplies. They have a few different holiday-themed templates and writing kits available to download for free. When writing your letter be sure to use pen or pencil and make sure Santa can read your letter.

2. Write your letter. Be as specific as possible. Make sure to include all titles, clothing and shoe sizes, favorite colors and any other info that could help Santa's elves make the best gifts possible.

3. Mail your letter. Make sure to address it properly, include your return address, and use a First-Class stamp. Santa's address is:

Santa
123 Elf Road
North Pole, 88888

If you want to give back and help a family in need, you can "adopt" a family this season as well. Or, better yet, you can get your office to help out and spread some holiday cheer. Simply check out the list of letters starting November 29, find a letter that speaks to you, and start shopping. Here's how you can give back.

1. Kids write letters to Santa. You can view the letters here starting November 29.

2. New letters will be published daily.

3. Adopt a letter and start shopping.

4. Visit your local participating post office and send your gift away. Make sure to send it before December 18 to ensure it's there in time for Christmas. Be sure to wrap your package before putting it into a box for shipping, make sure you have proper postage, and bring it to the post office. More information on shipping here.

Click here for more info on how to give back.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy. Any opinions expressed are Dennis Malloy's own.

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