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Postal employees brace for busiest week of year

Brookhaven’s Mary Watson is making Christmas merry for herdaughter-in-law with a new computer. She shipped the Office Depotbox – addressed to her son, Jeffery, for secrecy – off to LosAngeles Monday morning.

“Maybe his wife won’t see it,” she said.

Watson’s computer was one of an estimated 830 million holidaypackages, letters and post cards that will traverse the nationMonday, which is expected to be the busiest shipping day of theyear for the U.S. Postal Service. The two Brookhaven offices willsend out around 600 of those packages on Monday, and will havedispatched 8,000 by the time the Christmas shipping rush ends nextweek.

“People are just trying to get all their packages mailed toensure they get there by Christmas Eve,” said Dena Longmire, theacting local postmaster. “A lot of people have their lists, andthey’re ready to cross off some of the names and keep ongoing.”

Longmire said the 830 million packages expected to be driven andflown to holiday destinations this Christmas represent roughly a 30percent increase in normal post office business

, with 583 million packages and letters in transit on normaldays. Wednesday, Dec. 16, is when most of that mail will arrive,making that day the post office’s single biggest delivery day ofthe year.

The local offices are ready to handle the volume.

Longmire said the offices are fully stocked with free shippingsupplies like boxes, tape and labels, and every available employeehas been called in. The Brookhaven offices have even called inextra hands from elsewhere in the 396 ZIP code area, she said.

“It won’t slow down until probably Dec. 22,” Longmire said.”Then, right before Christmas, it’s slow. Everyone has theirpackages away.”

Though the Christmas shipping rush is in full swing, Longmiresaid it’s not too late for last-minute shippers to get their giftsaway.

The deadline for shipping priority mail that will arrive byChristmas Eve is Dec. 21, she said, while the deadline for shippingexpress to arrive by that day is Dec. 22. Holiday procrastinatorsstill have one week to go by the store and get to the postoffice.

Longmire pointed out that shippers could take advantage of adiscount with online purchases at www.usps.com. Additionally,shipping insurance and delivery confirmation may be purchased onChristmas mail.

“It’s a whole lot cheaper to mail something than to drive itthere yourself,” she said.