NYC Santa Mail Program Adds Hurricane Victims

[press releases]
Caribbean Letters To Santa Head to NYC

San Juan – Like so many of our neighbors here in the Caribbean, even Santa Claus needs a little help this year after the hurricanes.

The New York City-based OPERATION SANTA program is in its 105th year of operation. Operation Santa is an annual letter-writing program for individuals, businesses and charitable organizations to respond to children’s letters addressed to Santa Claus, the North Pole and other seasonal characters. While there are no promises that all letters will receive a response, many New Yorkers return to read letters and to respond to wishes.

The process is strictly monitored. No names are shared. Those who write letters, and those who respond, remain strictly anonymous. All items for shipping must be deposited with the Main Post Office in Manhattan, the only location which will have that mailing address.

All letters to Santa from Caribbean addresses collected through December 13 are being added to the New York program for consideration. Letters may be presented at local post offices or addressed to OPERATION SANTA, Postmaster, San Juan PR 00936 for consideration.

Also from the USPS:

Operation Santa

Background
As much as history reveals, the Postal Service began receiving letters to Santa Claus more than 100 years ago. However, its involvement was made official when in 1912 Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local Postmasters to allow postal employees and citizens to respond to the ever growing number of letters received every holiday season.

In the 1940s, mail volume for Santa increased so much so that the Postal Service extended the same invitation to charitable organizations, community groups and corporations to help respond to children who wrote letters to Santa.

105th Anniversary
This year, 2017, the Postal Service is celebrating the 105th anniversary of the Operation Santa program as it continues to fulfill the dreams of children nationwide. More than one hundred years later, postal employees, volunteers and organizations remain committed to making children’s Christmas wishes come true.
What We Do

The Postal Service has Operation Santa sites in action around the country. In the vast number of locations postal employees respond to the letters by providing a written response signed by Santa, while other Post Offices may work with local schools, municipalities and community groups who volunteer for the joyous task.

Each year, however, in select Post Offices the general public is invited to “adopt” Santa letters. In all locations where the public may adopt letters written to Santa, strict privacy guidelines are in place. Any member of the public choosing to adopt a letter may simply respond in writing or if they choose grant the wish, a decision that is left to the individual.

New York City’s Operation Santa serves as the largest public adoption Post Office in the country. A “Big Apple” tradition that has changed very little since the 1940s and one which continues to thrive in the heart of the Manhattan, much to the delight of those who visit the iconic James A. Farley building.

How to adopt a letter

Privacy guidelines
In 2006, national policy guidelines were created regarding the handling and adoption of letters addressed to Santa. These guidelines were designed to protect the children who wrote to Santa and mandated that individuals wishing to adopt letters must do so in person, present valid photo identification and fill out a form that includes the list of letters being adopted.

In 2009, the Postal Service changed the letter adoption process by redacting or blacking out all reference to the child’s address and assigning the letter a number. Individuals interested in adopting letters go to the post office, select the letter(s) and sign an official form. When the individual has fulfilled the child’s wishes, they return to the same post office with the letter and/or gift for mailing. A postal employee weighs the package and the individual pays for the postage, or a Priority Mail Flat Rate box could be used. Then a postal employee matches the number on the letter with the child’s address, prints and applies a label to the package and readies it for delivery. The individual never has access to the mailing address.
Local Programs

Children of all ages send letters to “Santa Claus, North Pole, Alaska” every year. Unless these letters contain a complete Alaska address, the letters will remain in the area they were mailed. Where available, these letters are routed to the nearest post office that coordinates responses, often in postal administrative sites like District Offices.

As time and resources permit, these offices help provide a written response to letters bearing a complete return address. While responses are not promised, the Postal Service understands that a letter to Santa is often a child’s first written correspondence. Through this seasonal outreach, the Postal Service helps to promote literacy and letter writing.

2017 Operation Santa Locations

People-Community-Social Responsibility
The Postal Service and its employees play important roles in communities around the nation. Postal employees live in the communities in which they work. Their children attend school there. They actively participate in community business, shop in its stores and patronize local restaurants. It makes perfect sense for postal employees to want to help their fellow citizens, especially during the holiday season.

How To Adopt A Letter From Santa (USPS)

Individual customers and representatives of organizations wanting to adopt a letter must come to a participating Operation Santa Post Office in person. Both individual customers and organizational representatives must fill out the proper PS Forms 6012 (organization), 6012-A (organization record of letter), or 6012-I (individual) and show identification before viewing any letters.

  • For organizations wanting to adopt a letter, please send a representative with correspondence on letterhead from your company/organization authorizing the representative to view the letters on behalf of your company/organization. Your representative must present his or her employee ID and a valid state driver’s license or state-issued ID card.
  • For individuals wanting to adopt a letter, please bring a valid state driver’s license or state-issued ID card.

After completing the forms, you may then read and choose a letter(s). To protect the anonymity of the letter writers, all personal information will be blacked out in the letters you view — no last names, addresses or contact information of any kind will be visible.

Bring your selections to a postal clerk so the clerk can notate which letter(s) you will adopt.

Here is the fun part — you get to be Santa’s helper by fulfilling the wishes of the letter writer.

Once you have fulfilled the wish, you simply bring your wrapped gift(s) back to the same Operation Santa location to mail.

Individuals and organizations will be responsible for paying the postage to mail the gifts to the recipient.

Once you pay the postage, the postal clerks will match your box with the letter writer by using an internal numbering system.

The return address on the box will read “Operation Santa, North Pole.”

USPS Aids Letters From Santa

[press release]
U.S. Postal Service Letters FROM Santa Program Provides Santa’s Personalized Response to Your Child’s Letter
NORTH POLE — Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus — and the U.S. Postal Service can help you prove it when Santa replies to your child’s letter — complete with a North Pole postmark.

Here are the steps for your child to get a letter back from Santa:

  • Have your child write a letter to Santa and place it in an envelope addressed to: Santa Claus, North Pole.
  • Later, when alone, open the envelope and write a personalized response.
  • Insert the response letter into an envelope and address it to the child.
  • Add the return address: SANTA, NORTH POLE, to the envelope.
  • Affix a First-Class Mail stamp, such as a new Christmas Carols Forever stamp to the envelope.
  • Place the complete envelope into a larger envelope — preferably a Priority Mail Flat Rate envelope — with appropriate postage and address it to:

 

North Pole Postmark
Postmaster
4141 Postmark Drive
Anchorage, AK 99530-9998

“Letters from Santa” must be received by the Anchorage, AK, postmaster no later than Dec. 15. Santa’s helpers at the Postal Service will take care of the rest.

Be sure to share the experience on social media using #LettersFromSanta.

Tips

 

  • To save paper, write Santa’s response on the back of your child’s letter. If you keep them together, your child will also be able to recall what he or she wrote.
  • When responding as Santa, make the response as personal as possible by highlighting your child’s accomplishments over the past year, for example, helping around the house, receiving good grades in a particular subject at school or participating in community service activities.

 

The Letters from Santa program adds to the excitement of Christmas and is ideal for interesting youngsters in letter writing, stamps and penmanship.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

USPS Requests Penny Rate Hike

Note that this is a request, not an edict. These rate changes still require approval from the Postal Regulatory Commission, although that has usually not been a problem in recent years. —The Virtual Stamp Club

[press release]
U.S. Postal Service Announces New Prices for 2018
Penny Increase for the Forever Stamp

WASHINGTON — The United States Postal Service filed notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) today of price changes to take effect Jan. 21, 2018. The new prices, if approved, include a one cent increase in the price of a First-Class Mail Forever stamp from 49 cents to 50 cents.

Postcard stamps and metered letters would also have a one cent increase. Today’s filing does not include any price change for single-piece letters being mailed to international destinations or for additional ounces for letters.

The proposed prices would raise Mailing Services product prices approximately 1.9 percent, and most Shipping Services products will average a 3.9 percent price increase. While Mailing Services price increases are limited based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), Shipping Services prices are adjusted strategically, according to market conditions and the need to maintain affordable services for customers.

The proposed Mailing Services price changes include:

Product

Current

Proposed

Letters (1 oz.)

49 cents

50 cents

Letters additional ounces

21 cents

21 cents

Letters (metered)

46 cents

47 cents

Outbound International Letters (1 oz.)

$1.15

$1.15

Domestic Postcards

34 cents

35 cents

The new Shipping Services product prices would increase Priority Mail 3.9 percent and Priority Mail Retail an average of 0.8 percent. As in the past, the Postal Service will not include any surcharges for fuel, residential delivery, or regular Saturday delivery.

The proposed domestic Priority Mail Flat Rate Retail price changes are:

Product

Current

Proposed

Small Flat Rate Box

$7.15

$7.20

Medium Flat Rate Box

$13.60

$13.65

Large Flat Rate Box

$18.85

$18.90

APO/FPO Large Flat Rate Box

$17.35

$17.40

Regular Flat Rate Envelope

$6.65

$6.70

Legal Flat Rate Envelope

$6.95

$7.00

Padded Flat Rate Envelope

$7.20

$7.25

The PRC will review the prices before they are scheduled to take effect on Jan. 21, 2018. The complete Postal Service price filings with the new prices for all products can be found on the PRC site under the Daily Listings section at https://www.prc.gov/dockets/daily. For the Mailing Services filing see Oct. 6, 2017, Docket No. R2018-1. For the Shipping Services filing see Oct. 6, 2017, Docket No. CP2018-8.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations

USPS Revamps Philatelic Catalogue

from the Postal Bulletin
USA Philatelic Redesign

We are excited to announce the redesign of USA Philatelic, a robust vehicle that provides knowledge and personal insight into the creativity of stamps to inspire stamp collecting. Readers will now have access to exclusive background information about stamps, learn new ways to create beautiful mail, and explore new philatelic products in the Product Spotlight section.

Throughout USA Philatelic, readers will also find opportunities to enhance their experience with the USPS® Augmented Reality (AR) app. By scanning the page with the USPS AR icon, readers will discover interesting information about stamps and products, or gain a glimpse of the first-day-of-issue stamp ceremony — and that’s just the beginning of the USA Philatelic transformation!

We have distributed the USA Philatelic spring edition (SKU 00000014) to Postal Retail Units nationwide, and additional copies can be requested through eBuy2 by searching for the appropriate SKU number. The Material Distribution Center will fill all orders.

Customers who are interested in receiving a free issue should call 800-STAMP-24 or go to www.usps.com/philatelic to add themselves to the USA Philatelic subscription listing.

Dutch Postal Agency Expands Food Deliveries

[press release]
PostNL further expands food delivery

From now on, PostNL will deliver food products seven days a week via the special food network. More and more people are buying their food products online, both in cities and in rural areas. PostNL delivers shopping, meal boxes and specialty products such as meat and sports nutrition for various providers. Since February 2017, PostNL has also been delivering Marley Spoon and De Krat meal boxes.

Special food network
In order to increase convenience for consumers, online providers of food products are increasing the number of days on which delivery can take place. In addition, consumers can receive more accurate information on the delivery time via the PostNL app. The time period within which PostNL will deliver has been shortened to 30 minutes. PostNL aims to be the best logistics provider for online food in the Benelux region. A special food network has been developed for this with its own IT application through which senders and recipients can track their orders in real time. More than 30 food vendors deliver their products throughout the Netherlands with PostNL, including Ekoplaza, Marley Spoon, Hoogvliet, Sligro, De Krat, Mathijs Maaltijdbox, Ekomenu and Samen een Koe Kopen.

PostNL cool box
Food products are transported in the PostNL cool box, which was developed in collaboration with the University of Wageningen. This cool box keeps the products at the right temperature so that they stay fresh. The sealed cool boxes are opened at your front door and after being unloaded, are taken away again by the deliverer. This means that the cool boxes can be reused up to 500 times and the food vendors do not need to pack the products in cartons or boxes themselves. This saves on packaging, which benefits the environment.

New USPS Product: Stamp Ceremony Memento

Updated March 2nd: In the original Postal Bulletin article, the pricing was incorrect for two of the items, Love Skywriting and Year of the Rooster. We have corrected it below.

[from the Postal Bulletin]
The Stamp Ceremony Memento

In 2017, the United States Postal Service® launched a new and exciting product for our customers and collectors — the stamp ceremony memento. This memento will be offered for a number of different products wrapped into one first-day-of-issue experience collectable. The stamp ceremony memento is professionally packaged to preserve the contents.

Love Skywriting stamp memento, Item 561634, $19.95
The Love Skywriting stamp depicts the word “Love” written in white cursive script against a blue sky studded with wispy clouds. The edges of the letters are just beginning to blur into the surrounding sky. Underlining the word is a decorative swirl of smoke that emphasizes the message. A small, stylized plane, dwarfed by the giant letters, completes the end of the swirl, with smoke trailing from its tail.

The stamp ceremony memento for the Love Skywriting stamp includes:

First-Day Cover
Announce your affection with this new Love Skywriting first-day cover. The #6-¾ envelope bears one affixed Forever® stamp cancelled with an official first-day-of-issue postmark.

Digital Color Postmark
The Love Skywriting digital color postmark celebrates public displays of affection with handwriting floating between blue arcs representing clouds. Also included are an image of a plane and the stamp title, as well as the date and location of stamp issuance: January 7, 2016, Chino, CA 91710.

Ceremony Invitation
The stamp ceremony memento includes an original invitation to the official first-day-of-issue ceremony. This invitation shows the order of the event and all of the participants.

Ceremony Program
The full-color program features the first-day-of-issue ceremony agenda and participants on one side, with a narrative about the stamp design on the reverse.

The stamp ceremony memento is also currently available for the Lunar New Year: Year of the Rooster stamp, the Dorothy Height stamp, the Oscar de la Renta stamp, and the John Fitzgerald Kennedy stamp. Each memento has an individual item number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog, online at www.usps.com/shop, or by calling 800-782-6724. Customers may request a free catalog by calling 800-782-6724 or writing to:

U.S. Postal Service
Catalog Request
PO Box 219014
Kansas City, MO 64121-9014

Others mementos available:

  • Lunar New Year: Year of the Rooster stamp memento, Item 552034, $18.95
  • Dorothy Height stamp memento, Item 474334, $21.95
  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy stamp memento, Item 474634, $18.95
  • Oscar de la Renta stamp memento, Item 562734, $21.95

It Pays To Run A Postal Service

Australia Post announced February 23rd that Fahour has resigned, as of July 2017. Although there is no mention of why or where Fahour is going, the press release sings his praises.

Who makes more? The head of the postal service or the head of state?

In Australia, the answer is “postal service.”

According to the Associated Press, Ahmed Fahour (right), managing director of Australia Post, was paid AU$4.4 million in salary and a AU$1.2 million bonus in the last fiscal year.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should deliver mail: He wasn’t paid a tenth as much — just AU$507,000.

The AP points out that U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan only made $286,137 last year, but in fairness, we should point out that the Australian dollar is only worth 76% of the U.S. dollar. So Brennan made AU$374,780.72, while Fahour “only” made US$4.3 million (US$4,275,090.99, to be exact). That’s at today’s exchange rate; it wasn’t that much different last year.

Just as an aside, the President of the United States receives an annual salary of US$400,000, or AU$524,179.20.

Australia Post didn’t want the senate committee to disclose how much Fahour made, saying it and its top executives “would become targets of unwarranted media attention.” Such as showing up in The Virtual Stamp Club’s LloydBlog.

Turnbull was a banker before entering politics and has a personal fortunate estimated at AU$200 million, but he says he told Australian Post’s chairman “that remuneration is too high.”

“As someone who spent most of his life in the business world before I came into politics, I think that is a very big salary for that job,” Turnbull told reporters.

(By the way, the Associated Press referred to the postal agency throughout its story as “Australian Post.”

Some U.S. Postal Rates Rise Jan. 22, 2017

Call it the “stealth rate hike.” With little fanfare, The cost to mail a letter within the U.S. is going up two cents on January 22, 2017, just as the U.S. Postal Service requested in October. The Postal Regulatory Commission allowed the increase without action or announcement because it fell within the rate of inflation.

Not all consumer rates, however, are going up. The additional-ounce charge will remain at 21¢. So will the “nonmachineable surcharge,” the fee for odd-shaped pieces of mail, such as greeting cards.The postcard rate will remain 34¢. The international one-ounce rate will still be $1.15.

The base price for a “flat” (large envelope that is flexible enough to bend more than a half inch and less than three-quarters of an inch thick) goes up four cents, to 98¢, but, again, the additional ounce is 21¢.

First-class parcels (not bendable or thicker than 3/4 of an inch or both) are both more complicated and less. Four ounces or less are now $2.67. Additional ounces in parcels go from 19¢ to 18¢, so five-ounce parcel is now $2.85 and a six-ounce one is $3.03, both more than before January 22nd. A seven-ounce parcel (or anything between 6.1 and 7.0 ounces) is the same before and after the rate change, $3.21, and above that weight, prices are actually cheaper under the new structure.

Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express (previously called “Express Mail” and still called that by most customers and clerks) are considered commercial shipping products in competition with companies like United Parcel Service and Federal Express, and so don’t require PRC approval or adherence to inflation rates.

The base price for Priority Mail (a flat-rate envelope) will go up 20¢ to $6.65. The basic flat-rate Express Mail rate will be $23.75.