It’s crunch time for post office |

It’s crunch time for post office

Susan Wood
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Postal clerk Debbie Storie sorts incoming parcels for South Lake Tahoe residents to pick up at the main post office.

The Christmas bustle is not reserved to shopping carts. The U.S. Postal Service gears up every year for the flood of holiday mail and parcels between loved ones and from Santa’s fans.

The federal operation expects to handle 20 billion pieces of mail between now and Christmas.

At South Lake Tahoe, 70 clerks and carriers at the Main Branch off Al Tahoe Boulevard will probably sort through more than 400,000 pieces – a 30 percent increase from the prior year. Parcels go up about 4 percent to 30,000 packages.

The peak mailing day is expected to be Dec. 20.

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Even with e-mail’s increasing use, there’s still a place for old-fashioned, written correspondence such as greeting cards.

“It could be a dying form of communication. I don’t know. I still do it and so does my family,” Carroll Jones said Wednesday while loading a package into her vehicle at the main branch.

Lead window clerk Tom Millham believes mail offers a personal touch sometimes overlooked in today’s society – “especially with greeting cards.”

Millham offered a few tips for those planning on mailing packages:

— Parcels should be wrapped securely, printing the return and recipient’s addresses clearly. Senders needing ZIP codes may call (800) ASK-USPS.

And don’t procrastinate.

— For military mail, the recommended deadline to send material via Parcel Airlift is Saturday. The South Lake Tahoe post office will expand its open-for-business time this Saturday by two hours.

— Global airmail parcel post should be sent by Monday to Africa, Central and South America; Dec. 10 for Europe; and Dec. 13 elsewhere.

Global express guaranteed is not offered out of South Lake Tahoe, but it is offered in Reno.

— Domestic packages should switch from parcel post to Priority Mail Dec. 14 and to Express Mail on Dec. 23.

Every year, the postal service gets a boost in income from the mass of holiday mail, helping its volatile bottom line.

The 37-cent, first-class rate won’t change until 2006. There was earlier talk of the Postal Service seeking a 4-cent increase.

“Mail could be a dying breed if they continue to raise the postage,” Bryan Spafford said.

His wife, Roxanne, piped in.

“I still like to get (cards). Look, I just bought stamps so I could send them out,” she said, while leaving the parking lot.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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