NEW YORK CITY (WUSA) -- For the last century, the US Post Office has been helping average people play Santa Claus for kids in need. It's a program called Operation Santa and it kicks off on Tuesday, but the "Dear Santa" letters have already started to arrive at New York City's main post office.
"Dear Santa, I am writing this letter to you because I really want gifts this year, but I don't think my parents have the money to really get me anything," reads Pete Fontana, Operation Santa's Chief Elf.
Some of the letters make him smile.
"One child wrote, 'Dear Santa give me one of every toy you ever made.' Another one said, 'Give me a million dollars in small bills. Thank you.' And that's all he wrote," said Fontana.
But others make him wish he could do much more for the children writing the letters.
"Dear Santa, can you please bring a blanket for my Mommy?" reads Fontana.
It's letters like that which led to the founding of Operation Santa back in 1912 when a group of post office employees decided to start helping Santa fulfill the Christmas wishes of children in need. One hundred years later, those employees are still Santa's biggest helpers. They open his mail, sort it, and file it for anonymous donors to adopt. This year, New York City's main post office alone will receive roughly 10,000 letters to Santa every day during the holidays. Fontana says many of those letters are from the victims of Superstorm Sandy.
"We're seeing letters saying that I have lost everything I own, that I won't be able to buy anything for the kids this year," said Fontana.
But the elves can only do so much. It's up to people to make sure these holiday wishes come true. Click here to learn how to adopt a "Dear Santa" letter from the U.S. Post Office.