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thedrifter
09-14-07, 08:46 AM
USPS issues holiday mailing deadlines
By Karen Jowers - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Sep 13, 2007 17:11:30 EDT

If you want to get holiday gifts to a service member deployed overseas by Dec. 25, it’s time to start thinking about mail deadlines.

The first suggested deadline of Nov. 13 is for packages going by parcel post to deployed troops and those living on overseas installations, according to the U.S. Postal Service. Parcel post may be the slowest option, but it’s the cheapest, too. For packages to arrive by the start of Hanukkah, at sundown Dec. 4, they should be mailed by Oct. 23.

You can check the cost of mailing your package through different avenues on the Postal Service’s Web site.

Postal officials strongly advise families to consider these deadlines because of the volume of mail during the holiday season. Many groups are already gearing up to send packages to deployed troops. In just one example, Operation Santa will send more than 10,000 homemade Christmas stockings to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The drive to collect thousands of travel-size containers of mouthwash, toothpaste, dental floss and lotion, as well as a host of other items, will end Nov. 1, when they will start stuffing the stockings and sending them out. As of mid-September, the group had names of 7,055 service members who will receive stockings.

The drive is a mission of the Central Illinois Proud Families of Marines, a nonprofit organization co-founded by Patti Smith of Peoria, Ill., a mother of two Marines. The group sends stockings to all branches of the military, she said.

Some tips from the Postal Service:

* Packages must be addressed to an individual service member. Mail cannot be delivered to “any service member.” Use the member’s full name, military organization or unit and APO/FPO address.

* Do not include the country name in any part of the address when using an APO/FPO address.

* Choose a box strong enough to protect its contents, and use plenty of cushioning material such as popcorn or newspapers.

* Consider using the Postal Service’s free Military Kit — eight boxes of three different sizes popular for mailing to military personnel, along with mailing labels, tape and U.S. Customs forms. Kits can be obtained by calling toll-free to (800) 610-8734. Choose option 1, and when a live agent responds, ask for Care Kit 4.

* Write the delivery and return addresses on one side of the package.

* Place a return address label inside the package.

If you miss the parcel post deadline, here are your options for getting mail to an APO/FPO address by Dec. 25 (subtract 21 days from these deadlines to ensure delivery in time for Hanukkah):

* Space Available Mail (SAM): Nov. 27.

* Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL): Dec. 4, except for ZIP codes starting with 093, which are all areas of contingency operations. The suggested deadline for those locations is Dec. 1.

* Priority Mail: Dec. 11 (093 ZIP codes, Dec. 4).

* First-class letters and cards: Dec. 11. (093 ZIP codes, Dec. 4).

* Express Mail Military Services: Dec. 18 (not available to 093 ZIP codes).

postcalc.usps.gov/

Ellie