Nevis Lions help with Operation Santa

A special mailbox has been set up in downtown Nevis to collect letters to Santa this holiday season. Anybody in the country can adopt a child or family. Plus, the Lions hosts a Celebration of Light from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3.

Abel Domogalla, age 7, mailed his letter to Santa Thursday. The Nevis Lions set up the mail box by the visitor center to add to the holiday spirit. They are also hosting a Celebration of Lights in Nevis on Saturday, Dec.3.
Contributed / Renee Domogalla
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A special mailbox has been set up in downtown Nevis to collect letters to Santa this holiday season.

Nevis Lions president Jesse Forbes and Lion Barb Deery came up with the idea.

Forbes is also the Nevis and Akeley postmaster. He said Operation Santa started a couple of years ago.

“It’s a website where the letters kids write to Santa are put into a database,” he said. “Anybody in the country can adopt a child or family. You go in and pick who you want to adopt, purchase the items they asked Santa for, box them up and bring them to the post office. You’ll get a QR code and the post office will scan that and put a sticker with the address on it. It’s nationwide, so you don’t know where it’s going or who it’s going to. All you know is that there are people who are requesting help to have a better Christmas for their children or for their whole family.”

Forbes said it all started with postmasters. “We’re in touch with the community,” he said. “Some postmasters would buy gifts for families having hard times anonymously and drop the gifts off. That’s how it started and it snowballed into this nationwide program.”


There is even an independent film about the project, “Dear Santa.”

Operation Santa

Children’s letters should be addressed to USPS Operation Santa, 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888 and have a first class stamp. Families who want their child’s letter to be included in the Operation Santa database should also include the child’s mailing address.

Letters may be dropped in the Santa mailbox in Nevis next to the visitor center on Hwy. 2 or in any post office by Dec. 10 so they reach Operation Santa by Dec. 12.

Adoption of those requesting gifts begins Nov. 28 through the USPS website under Operation Santa. Operation Santa ends Dec. 21. Those adopting a child or family should mail gifts by Dec. 21 at the latest.

While all letters aren’t answered, Forbes said, those whose letters are selected by someone from the website will receive a special surprise in the mail.

Deery said the Nevis Lions Club decided to put a mailbox up next to the visitor center on Hwy. 2 in Nevis to add another element to the festivities they are planning.

“Kids don’t know what to do with their letters to Santa Claus, so we thought it would be fun to have this mailbox up for them,” she said. “It will also be another element to add to our Christmas Celebration of Light.”

Celebration of Light

Hosted by the Nevis Lions Club, the Nevis Celebration of Light will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3.


“The Lions raised enough money to have the tree by Muskie Park professionally decorated with Christmas lights,” Deery said. “At dusk on Dec. 3, we will light the tree for the first time. We’re going to have Santa and Mrs. Claus at Santa’s workshop and hay rides. The Nevis Women’s Club is going to be serving cookies and hot cider at Muskie Pavilion, and a couple of the churches are going to get together and sing Christmas carols.”

Those attending the celebration are invited to bring an ornament to help decorate the community tree at Santa’s workshop and register to win a gift card from a local business by guessing the number of new lights on the Christmas tree at Muskie Pavilion. There will also be a bonfire, and Muskie Waters will be hosting a hot chocolate bar.

“We’re trying to bring back a little bit of the old-fashioned Christmas,” Deery explained. “We’re turning the visitor center into Santa’s workshop. It’s been fun. We’re also having a ‘Fill the Sleigh’ campaign next to Santa’s workshop, where people can donate non-perishable items to the Akeley-Nevis Food Shelf.”

Suggested items for the food shelf include pasta, spaghetti sauce, cereal, pancake mix, syrup, flour and soup, but any non-perishable items are welcome.

The Park Rapids church created space in visitors' imagination for the story of Jesus' birth.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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