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Post office handles holiday packages

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Mail comes from all over the world and comes in many shapes and sizes. It contains anything from bills to birthday cards, no matter where it comes from or what's inside, the mail received here during holiday season goes through RAF Lakenheath's post office.

During the holiday season, the post office receives a large volume of incoming and outgoing mail. Enormous amounts of Christmas gifts and catalogs need to be sorted, sent and delivered. Because of the increased volumes, the post office requires additional help.

To make sure that service members and their families receive mail on time, the post office is authorized to hire seasonal overhires. The seasonal employees will help do every job at the post office including finance. This year, the post office is allowed to hire 12 temporary civilian employees.

Even with the aid of temporary civilian employees, the post office still needs help. A large amount of the help the post office receives during the holiday season is from volunteers.

"This is the time of year that we do get the majority of our volunteers," said Tech Sgt. Charles Quentin, CS assistant post master.

Volunteers come from various organizations, squadrons and individuals from all over RAF Lakenheath. One of the leading contributors of volunteers for the post office comes from First Term Airmen Center. FTAC sends groups of volunteers to the post office on a regular basis, year round. On occasion, the post office has had to request volunteers from FTAC.

Volunteers are allowed to perform many different jobs at the post office. The only job that they are not allowed to do is finance. There is minimal training required to volunteer at the post office and volunteers can walk in any time from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Members of the post office deploy with every AEF cycle. The post office never is fully staffed. Since members of the post office staff deploy, the post office is in constant need of volunteers. Volunteers are needed year round, not just for the holiday seasons.

"We live and die by our volunteers," said Senior Master Sgt. William Thompson, postal superintendent.

Monday, the post office is open additional hours to help decrease the amount of traffic they have coming in and out of the post office during lunch time or after the duty day. The new hours for parcel shipping are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The new hours for parcel receiving are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Due to the increased volume in mail the post office receives during the holiday season, the post office has implemented cut-off dates for mail going to and from the U.S.

The final mailing dates are as follows: for space available mail Nov. 20, for first class and priority mail Dec. 11, and for express mail Dec. 18.

Mail comes in many shapes and sizes, and from anywhere in the world, service members here wouldn't see any of it if it wasn't for RAF Lakenheath's post office Airmen and volunteers who work there.