By offering postage-free postcards featuring “SpongeBob MailPants,” the U.S. Postal Service hopes to inspire kids to write more mail. (U.S. Postal Service )

Your friends may enjoy getting texts and e-mails from you, but it’s also fun to receive an actual piece of mail — something you can touch and maybe tack onto a bulletin board.

The U.S. Postal Service has found a helper to get kids excited about letter writing: SpongeBob MailPants.

The Nickelodeon cartoon character (with a slightly altered name) is featured on postcards that kids can pick up at some post offices beginning Thursday.

The cards, which are available at more than 25,000 post offices, can be mailed for free through January 4. (It usually costs 33 cents to mail a postcard.)

You aren’t used to writing letters? Nickelodeon’s Web site features a page on how to write one. A video tutorial walks you through the parts of the letter: date, greeting, body, closing and signature. (Try using cursive!)

The page, at
, also includes make-your-own SpongeBob stationery in case what you have to say won’t fit on a postcard.

Staff reports