Letters to Santa Guidelines


Here are all the details for our amazing partner schools. Not a school? Head to registration and sign up to become an elf!


The Letters to Santa program provides holiday gifts to children at a select group of partner schools and organizations. Children must be in 3rd grade or younger to be eligible to participate in the Letters to Santa Program, regardless of the child’s school or nonprofit organization (this includes homeless shelters).


The Chicago Sun-Times Charity Trust Letters to Santa program supports low-income children in the Chicago area. 

To qualify to participate, 85% or more of the children in your school or nonprofit organization must fall below the poverty level.

We ask that you only participate in one Letters to Santa program for your 3rd graders and younger. If you are able to find another similar program, we ask you to choose one over the other.

contingency plan

While we do our best to match every child with a generous volunteer “elf,” we cannot guarantee that all of the children sending us a letter will receive a gift from our readers. Please be prepared to make necessary arrangements in the event that some of your children’s gifts do not arrive. 

Our generous elves are told that their gifts will go directly to specific children. Therefore, please do not open a child’s gift and give it to someone else. We ask that all gifts go to the children to whom they were designated.

letters to santa template and instructions

Please have each child complete the Letters to Santa template in full. The template ensures that each elf has all of the information he or she needs to purchase exactly what the child requests. 

The large blank space in the template is where children can write their letters to Santa and decorate them as they wish. We recommend using this activity as a creative writing and art project! Invite your students to tell the elves about themselves, draw a holiday scene or share something else. 

If children are unable to write legibly, please provide assistance so that we can easily read the requests. Please only use crayons, pens or colored pencils on the templates. They are scanned and shared digitally, so any additional materials like glitter, glue or staples make the letters more difficult to submit.

Please ensure that each gift request is $25 or less. We ask that each child list three (3) gift wishes to offer choices for our elves as they shop (e.g. remote control car, a board game, or a coat).

Letters submitted with incomplete information or with gift requests over the $25 limit will be returned, so please take the time to screen each child’s letter before submitting them to the Sun-Times.

Please also fill out the information about your school or program, including primary and secondary contact people. Indicate any special instructions our elves should know, including information about security, parking, directions, or more.

Cover letter

On your letterhead, provide instructions for the elves on the backside of each child’s letter to Santa. Cover letters include:

  • Information about your school/nonprofit organization, the children you serve and how assistance from elves makes a positive difference in the children’s lives. 

  • Primary and secondary contact persons, address, phone numbers and hours of availability, including instructions regarding security, parking, directions, etc.

  • Have the principal or agency director sign the cover letter.

letter submission

To submit letters, please follow these steps: 

  1. Make a copy of each child’s letter. 

  2. Create a folder/envelope for each classroom or program location. 

  3. Within each folder/envelope, separate the letters by gender. 

  4. Write the total number of boys and girls and the classroom number/program location on the outside of the folder/envelope. 

Send or drop off the letters by October 18th to:
Chicago Sun-Times
Letters to Santa
30 N. Racine, Ste. 300
Chicago, IL 60607