Volunteers sort package piles at post office
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- As the holidays approach, packages are starting to amass at the Kadena Post Office.
Luckily, augmentees and volunteers are working hard sorting packages to ensure that Airmen and their families are able to send and receive holiday gifts in a timely fashion.
"Now is the time to be proactive and get the gifts that you want for your loved ones," said Tech. Sgt. Alix Bourand, 18th Communications Squadron assistant postmaster. "Don't wait until the last minute to send packages or they may not arrive in time."
Every holiday season, the post office relies on 150-300 volunteers and 28 augmentees to help with a mail volume increase of more than 200 percent as the shipping deadline gets closer. The augmentees and volunteers save the post office more than $43,500 annually by working jobs that are normally contracted out during the holidays.
The post office typically processes 150 packages a day during non-holiday seasons; however, when the holidays come around, they see an increase to 500-600, packages daily. With all these extra packages to process, they definitely need the extra hands. Fortunately, there are those willing to help.
"I never thought there were this many packages delivered at once," said Airman 1st Class Adan Rivera Castro, 18th Munitions Squadron munitions controller and post office augmentee. "We have boxes stacked high, so it feels good to help the post office during their busy season."
The augmentees are split into two groups, with one group working from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and another working from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Nov. 11 to Jan. 19 to prevent mail backlogs and bottlenecking. Some of their jobs include sorting mail, loading and offloading trucks with packages and giving parcels to customers.
To ensure gifts arrive stateside in time for Christmas, senders must adhere to the following deadlines:
· Space Available Mail - Nov. 23
· First Class and Priority Mail - Dec. 3
· Express Mail - Dec.13
The post office's hours are from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday till Dec. 21. After which time, the post office will return to normal hours of operation.
Outgoing parcels are limited to 70 pounds. Additionally, Priority Mail is limited to 108 inches in circumference and in length, while Space Available Mail is limited to 130 inches.
Similarly, there are certain items that must not be mailed. These include decorative swords, alcohol, perfume, animals, plants, fruits and any counterfeit items, such as non-trademarked purses.
To prevent mail backup, patrons are encouraged to check their mail frequently during the holiday season.
For more information on volunteer requirements or postal services during the holidays, call 634-4240.