Photograph by New York Daily Photo

The U.S. Postal Service shut down its beloved Operation Santa program, where people can take letters to Santa written by needy children and send those kids gifts. The NY Times has the grim explanation:

A Postal Service official in Washington, after an initial, limited acknowledgment of a “privacy breach,” said that at one of the programs, not New York’s, a man whom a letter carrier recognized as a registered sex offender had “adopted” a letter. When postal officials confronted the man, the official said, he said he was sincerely trying to do a good deed, but postal inspectors nonetheless retrieved the letter and notified the family of the child.

Oh, man. The U.S.P.S. tells the Times the program's closing might be temporary, with this possible reworking for Manhattan's program: "Names and addresses will be blacked out and letters will be numbered. Instead of sending gifts directly, gift-givers will need to take wrapped presents to the post office and provide the recipient’s number. The post office will then send them out."

In recent years, the U.S.P.S. started to require people hoping to fill out three-page indemnity forms and show ID. And last week's Christmas episode of 30 Rock featured a "Letters to Santa" program: