BOSTON (CBS) – For 104 years the U.S. Postal Service has been helping to make Christmas special for children in need and their families with “Operation Santa.”

Operation Santa is a holiday tradition that allows people to read letters to Santa from families in need. Participants can select which family they want to “adopt,” and purchase gifts that will be delivered in time for Christmas.

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Mike Powers, district manager of the Greater Boston Postal District, said the letters are emotional.

“We have a number of letters that are written from young children, many of whom are in difficult situations,” said Powers.

“You have kids who will write letters and say ‘I don’t want anything for myself, I want something for my brother, my sister.’ They put their siblings above even their own issues.”

Mike Powers, district manager of the Greater Boston Postal District and Sasha Sokol of Rhode Island. (Ben Parker/WBZ)

Mike Powers, district manager of the Greater Boston Postal District and Sasha Sokol of Rhode Island. (Ben Parker/WBZ)

Sasha Sokol of Rhode Island has been involved with Operation Santa since she was in college.

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“Picking a letter is always the hardest thing. Some of them are really heartbreaking. A lot of them are from single mothers and parents who want to help out their kids. So it’s really hard to choose,” said Sokol.

“It’s Christmas morning. Santa should come. And I just imagine there’s a great sense of relief knowing you can give your child Christmas.”

The post office receives hundreds of letters every year from families in need.

At the Fort Point Channel Post Office off Summer Street, visitors can view letters and adopt children until Saturday at 1 p.m.

Gifts should be brought back to the post office by Wednesday, Dec. 21, so they can be delivered by Christmas.

“Knowing at the end of the day that you’re brightening some young child’s day, you’re bringing to them the real meaning of what the holiday season should be all about. That’s the great thing. That’s the reward,” said Powers.

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WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Ben Parker reports