Mailing rush

Christmas is right around the corner and those mailing cards and packages on Monday saw a little bit of a wait in line at the Post Office.

The Monday in the week before Christmas is historically the busiest mailing day of the season for cards and packages. Marietta’s post office on Front Street is no exception to the busy mailing and delivery season.

Postmaster Andrew Morgan said business at Marietta’s post office has been steady.

“There has been a steady stream (of people),” Morgan said. “Since about the end of November it’s picked up and been pretty constant.”

Morgan said that the window for processing packages has been fully staffed.

“It’s to keep the line moving and get people in and out,” Morgan said.

Morgan added that there are areas set up inside the post office for packing packages and getting them ready to ship. He said that having everything packed and forms filled out, especially for international shipping, would ensure a short time in line.

“Just have your forms filled out as much as you can, that way the clerk can get you on your way,” Morgan said.

Morgan said Monday’s winter weather didn’t affect the number of people coming in to mail packages.

“My office is close to the window,” Morgan said. “The bell (to the door) is ringing a lot. There’s been about five or six people in line all morning. The line will grow a little bit around lunchtime.”

On a usual day, the USPS processes about 528 million pieces of mail daily. That number jumps to around 545 million during the holiday season.

On Monday, the USPS was expecting to process about 607 million pieces of mail across the country. On the same day in 2012, the USPS processed about 658 million pieces of mail.

Locally, Morgan said the post office would process “a couple thousand packages” and the number of cards processed would match that.

Already, packages that have been processed are amounting to more than 2,000.

“I’d say it’s pretty close to 4,000,” said Darrell Wittekind, sales service associate for Marietta’s post office.

He is in his 29th Christmas season with the post office.

“They said it might be doubled from last year and so far they haven’t been wrong,” Wittekind said. “We’ll probably have another couple thousand coming (later) today.”

“Our collection boxes, we’ve had to empty multiple times a day,” Morgan said. “Usually it’s just once, in the evening.”

B.J. Elliott, supervisor at the post office, said that a recent addition is picking up: Amazon packages delivered on Sunday.

“It’s year round,” Elliott said. “Cincinnati started it first (in Ohio), and Athens picked it up just a few weeks ago.”

Elliott said it would be a great addition for Amazon shoppers, especially around the holidays, but that there is no definite start date for Marietta.

Marjorie Addlespurger, 77, of Macksburg, said she was sending a letter to England.

Addlespurger said that when her brother was in the service, he married an English woman and settled in England.

She said she was sending the card to her niece.

“I send one to them every year at Christmas time and it always gets there,” Addlespurger said. “It takes five days usually.”

She said that cards are usually all that are exchanged.

“We just send cards,” she said. “They’re lost family in a way. It’s been so many years since I’ve seen them. I’d love to go back again.”

Marietta resident Dee Dee Townsend, 50, was using her day off to get cards sent.

“I work with Marietta City Schools,” Townsend said. “We had a snow day so this is what I did this morning. It was perfect.”

Townsend said the farthest one of her cards is going is to Muncie, Ind.

She added that her son was home on leave from the military.

“I would have been sending him a package,” Townsend said. “Now he gets a big hug.”

The trick to making sure a package is received by Dec. 25 is meeting the USPS deadlines for mail.

The deadline for a Dec. 25 arrival is Dec. 20 for First-Class Mail, Dec. 21 for Priority Mail and Dec. 23 for Priority Mail Express.

The UPS Store, located in the Frontier Shopping Center, is offering tips for holiday packing.

Everyone shipping an item should begin with proper materials: a new cardboard box designed for shipping, professional-grade packing tape and packing material such as foam packing peanuts or bubble cushioning (at least two inches around).

Labels should be included on the inside of the package, with both the destination and return addresses in case the package is damaged.

It is strongly encouraged to use a carrier that provides a tracking number, so it’s easy to see where a package is located at any given time.

UPS also offers certified packing experts that will do the work and pack items for those with limited time to do it themselves. This service comes with the Pack & Ship Guarantee, which reimburses customers in the event a center-packed item is lost or damaged.

The UPS Store will accept packages as late as Monday, Dec. 23 for delivery on Tuesday, Dec. 24.

Items being shipped from Marietta to great distances, such as California, must be dropped off at the UPS Store no later than today.

For those waiting until the last minute to send packages and letters in the holiday rush, just remember: the key for ensuring cards and packages are received on or before Dec. 25 is to mail or ship them early.

In the meantime, don’t feel blue because of long lines and last minute mailings; most packages and mail will reach their destination by Christmas.

“It’s all the time; it never stops,” Elliott said. “They say the post office works on a 24-hour clock. There’s always somebody here.”