By Keith PannellDecember 4, 2019
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - November started a two-month holiday season operational surge for garrison postal service employees that will last until mid-January.
There are about 65 garrison employees and 10 local nationals working throughout the garrison Postal Service Centers. But, this time of year means bringing in reinforcements.
"During the holiday season, we have to have seasonal hires who work from Nov.1 to Dec. 31," said Justin Price, Kaiserslautern Military Community acting-postmaster. "We also use volunteers. We have people who volunteer year-round and they're even more important during the stretch run through the holiday season."
Any service member, government civilian or family member who wants to volunteer can walk into any garrison postal service center (mail room) and ask to volunteer.
Price said the volunteer is trained and the hours are tracked so the volunteer can get credit for the hours worked. Natalia Acosta did exactly that three years ago while her family was stationed in Belgium.
"I volunteered at the post office in Belgium," the Army spouse said. "I was offered a job shortly afterwards, so I took the opportunity and now I'm three years in as a postal employee."
After her husband was reassigned from Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers-Europe to the KMC, Acosta worked at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Postal Service Center before transferring to Rhine Ordnance Barracks eight months ago.
"It's a great opportunity. You meet people from all walks of life and all ranks," she said. "You learn something new. I had no postal experience but I came in and volunteered, made my own schedule, and I was able to learn from, and work with, a great team."
Acosta said getting mail to soldiers, employees and family members stationed overseas is rewarding because mail can make a bad day good.
Price said the holiday season is the perfect time for volunteering in the PSC. The garrison mail rooms are full, open extended hours to accommodate holiday mailing and the employees can use the help.
If the holiday season is the Super Bowl for the postal service employees, they're beginning the second half. KMC residents who are planning to mail holiday presents to the states need to be aware of the deadlines to ensure packages arrive before Christmas Day.
"We're already very busy right now because the packages from the Black Friday sales started arriving the Monday after Thanksgiving," said Price. "It's already too late to guarantee a package sent on a space available basis will get to its destination on time. Priority and First-Class mail needs to be mailed before December 11."
The post office on Rhine Ordnance Barracks is the only post office open on Saturdays for mailing a package during the holiday season, due to its centralized location within the garrison footprint, according to Price.
The clock will run out on the PSC's holiday season Jan. 11 when all of the garrison mail rooms will return to normal hours.
"We have to wait until January 11 to allow for all the packages that weren't mailed in time to get here before the holidays, to arrive," explained Price.
A complete list of USAG RP postal service center holiday hours and mailing dates to remember, can be found at https://home.army.mil/rheinland-pfalz/index.php/about/directorates-support-offices/directorate-human-resources-dhr/postal-operations