Standing in for Father Christmas, Brazil’s Post Office Helps Pay it Forward for Kids


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father christmas brazil

NPR recently featured a story about the Brazilian postal system. It’s a tremendous Christmas tale of Paying it Forward, the sixth type of Purple Goldfish. Here’s some background on the Father Christmas program:

Writing letters to Santa at the North Pole is a timeless tradition. About twenty years ago in Sao Paolo a few postal employees began reading them. Touched by the requests, some took the initiative to fulfill the Christmas wishes.

They answered letters like this:

“Dear Father Christmas,” the letter reads, “I know that you are very busy and that you live a long way away in the North Pole, but I’d like to ask you for a gift because my mother doesn’t have enough money to buy what I want.”

 “My mother died when I was a young baby. I live with my brother and my father. But this Christmas he can’t work because he’s in the hospital.”

The initiative created a groundswell and soon the program was officially adopted by the Post Office. Two decades later the people of Brazil are making Christmas wishes come true for hundreds of thousands of kids.

According to Wilson Abadio de Oliveira, the director of the post office for metropolitan Sao Paulo, roughly 1 million children across Brazil now write letters every year, and about half of them are adopted by someone. The post office ensures that the letters come only from children under 10 years old with addresses. And the letters must be handwritten; he says it’s a way of also making sure kids improve their writing skills. Once the post office verifies the letters, the people of Brazil can come in to adopt them.

Want to hear more about the program? Here’s the rest of story courtesy of NPR’s Morning Edition:

Paying it Forward

Pay it Forward is the only category that is both a Purple Goldfish and a Green Goldfish. Done correctly, you can leverage twice the impact. Employees and Customers want to know that a business is not only for profit, but also for purpose. We all want to contribute to the greater good. Making a difference in the live of others and being part of something that is bigger than ourselves. Here are a handful of examples of companies that bring the concept to life:

plaza cleaners

#1. Right from the Heart

Plaza Cleaners in PDX  submitted by Blue Young.

“I think it counts, though it’s not so typical. They will clean someone’s suit for free if they’re unemployed and need the suit for a job interview.”

#2. Honoring the Troops

coffee bean tea and leaf supports the troops#782 in the Project submitted via e-mail by Ryan Macaulay of Epic. Here is a PG from LA in Ryan’s words:

At Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in LA, if you buy a bag of coffee to support our troops overseas, Coffee Bean will buy your round of coffees at the time of purchase- even better, there is a blank white area on the actual coffee bag designated specifically for you to write a personal message to the troops the coffee is going to!

#3. Save $$$ and plant up to dozen trees a year… Chegg gets top grades

chegg plant a treeChegg chuggs into the Purple Goldfish Project at #235 from the folks over at Gaspedal.

“College students love Chegg for their cheap textbook rentals, free shipping, and eco-friendly business philosophy.  Chegg believes that renting a book instead of buying it new helps save trees. This isn’t just their corporate mission statement, the company actually functions around this core value. For every book they rent, they plant a tree in return.  As the customer finishes their transaction, Chegg presents a world map and asks the customer to pick a country or region to plant their tree in. It’s a simple, visual way of engaging during the transaction process and giving back to the community at the same time.  Customers can then tell the world what they did by linking their Chegg transaction to their Facebook profile or Twitter account.”

#4. Letting employees give back


Umpqua Bank (#7) allows its employees to give back to the community. Here is a comment by employee Heather Primeaux,

We are given and encouraged to use 40 hours of paid time each year to volunteer (which I can and do use to volunteer at my kids’ schools and for field trips).” (

#5. Lending Skills as Well as Hands

hp green goldfish

Hewlett Packard (#52) empowers employees to make a difference and give back. Let’s do the math: 4 hours per month x 300,000 employees = 1,200,000 hours of HP social impact. (Source:


Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – My friend Tyson Adams is Paying it Forward, while blurring the lines between for profit and non-profit with the Jhai Coffee House.

In 2013, Tyson and his girlfriend Janelle opened the world’s first completely philanthropic coffee roaster and cafe located at the source. All of Jhai’s business profits are invested into children’s sanitary education and clean water projects in the local Lao coffee growing community.

Inspired by Muhammad Yunus, they believe tapping the free market to solve our humanitarian needs is the key to sustainability. They are flipping the concept of donation into investment. Putting those dollars into a for-profit model so that those dollars can now have endless life to do endless good. Here is a video on Jhai and their mission:

Want to learn more: Check out Jhai Coffee House on Facebook by clicking here.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.


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