Busiest time of the year

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 9, 2002

Although they do not come down the chimney or use a sleigh pulled by reindeer,

postal workers will deliver plenty of gifts this Christmas season as local post offices brace for the holiday rush.

According to the Associated Press, the Postal Service estimates it will deliver 20 billion letters, packages and other items between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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Mail flow in Lawrence County is already starting to pick up and "stamp sales have been excessive this week,"

said Kathleen Patrick, postmaster at the Ironton Post Office for the last two years.

Patrick has worked in the postal service for 22 years and is no longer worried or surprised by the holiday season.

"We are used to it and know how it is going to go," she said. "We have great carriers. They try very hard and do a good job of getting mail to the customers."

Statewide, the Postal Service has been preparing for a couple of months and a plan is in place to ensure mail flows smoothly, she said.

Changes implemented for the next few weeks include keeping at least three people at the counter instead of two, adding two extra employees --bringing the total to 40 and adding extra mail runs to make sure packages get on the road as soon as possible.

The Ironton office has added an extra run to and from Columbus on Sundays and an extra run that leaves Ironton at noon every day.

Traditionally, Dec. 16 is the busiest day for mail delivery.

According to the Associated Press, 850 million packages will be postmarked on the 16th, about 185 million more than an average day.

Patrick said Mondays and Fridays are usually the worst days of the week. "We anticipate it to be a horrendous mailing day," she said. "Everyone goes shopping that weekend and the comes in and says, 'I have to get it out today or it won't get there.'"

Contrary to what many people believe, technology has increased the amount of mail delivered, not taken away from it.

"Online buying has definitely increased our parcel delivery," she said. "E-mail may have taken away from the everyday letters, but during the month of December it never decreases.

People are still going to send their cards through the mail."

When it comes to cards, the carriers have instructions to go that extra mile to make sure they are delivered because many times it could be from someone's grandparents or someone who does not keep up to date with things, she said.

"If it is a card of any type I ask my carriers to do their best to deliver it regardless of how outdated the address is," she said. "If you know who that is then you get that letter to them."

Patrick wanted to encourage people to have their packages ready to go, have their money ready when they come in and mail things as soon as they can.

"Customers are our number one goal," she said.

"I want this to be a great place to work and a great place for our customers to come."