Get a grip

Hand holding phone

The Postal Service is reminding customers that and its mobile version,, can help them reduce their stress this holiday season.

Customers can use the sites to buy stamps, ship packages and access Informed Delivery, a free feature that allows users to manage incoming mail and parcel deliveries.

“We’re making it easier for customers to manage their mailing and shipping needs during the busiest time of the year,” said Chief Customer and Marketing Officer Jim Cochrane. “With Informed Delivery, you can track your packages and check your mail from anywhere. Virtually anything you would do at a Post Office, you can now do online at”

During the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, customers conducted more than 54 million transactions on

Almost 2 million customers visit on an average day. More than 7 million visits are projected Dec. 18, which is expected to be the site’s busiest day during the holidays.

In addition to purchasing stamps and shipping packages, customers can use to buy mailing supplies, calculate postage, schedule free Package Pickup, track packages, submit Hold Mail requests and use the Premium Forwarding Service.

A Dec. 6 news release and the USPS Holiday Newsroom site have more information.

Hard-earned steps

USPS letter carrier delivers mail to home

Gary Nodes felt fine when he went to sleep one night in March 2015.

But the following day, the Brick, NJ, letter carrier woke up with a backache — and a few hours later, he began to lose feeling in his left leg. By the time he reached the hospital, his life had changed.

“I was paralyzed from the waist down,” he said.

Nodes had suffered from a spontaneous spinal hematoma, which occurs when a blood vessel ruptures inside the spine and damages surrounding nerves.

“It felt like being buried in sand,” he said. “You can’t get out.”

Following emergency surgery, Nodes spent the next 15 months undergoing physical therapy to regain the use of his legs.

His co-workers were supportive. Because he was unable to go upstairs in his home, his family placed a hospital bed in his living room. Some colleagues painted the room to help turn it into a makeshift bedroom.

Co-workers also built a wheelchair ramp at his home and hosted a fundraiser in his honor. Employees collected the donations on their own time, and all contributions were voluntary.

Nodes, who recently returned to his route, is thankful despite the lingering effects from his paralysis.

“I get very tired,” he said. “My left leg is still heavy and I still have [some] issues — but not everybody is as lucky as I am.”

Closing time

Two women converse

Postal Service employees enrolled in a health care flexible spending account (FSA) program through FSA Feds have until Dec. 31 to incur claims.

Unlike previous years, the 2017 FSA Feds program doesn’t have a grace period for health care accounts.

Instead, you can carry over as much as $500 in health care FSA funds into next year if you re-enroll in the FSA program for 2018 during the Nov. 13-Dec. 11 open season period.

Any funds in excess of $500 will be forfeited. If you don’t re-enroll, all remaining funds — including the $500 — will be forfeited.

Unlike the health care FSA, you have a grace period for dependent care FSAs. The last day to incur expenses for a 2017 dependent care FSA is March 15, 2018.

The last day to submit all claims for both 2017 health care and dependent care FSAs is April 30.

Claims for 2017 should be submitted to FSA Feds. If you opted for paperless reimbursement on your health care FSA, you don’t need to submit claims.

If you haven’t opted for paperless reimbursement, visit the LiteBlue page for more information on available claims submission options.

The FSA Feds site has additional information.

Need to know

Letter carrier scanning

Scanning snapshot. The Postal Service’s national scanning rating was 97.56 percent during the week ending Dec. 1, down from one week earlier.

Dakotas (98.77 percent) topped the districts, while Western (97.83 percent) led the areas.

Scanning allows customers to track their packages and mail. It also helps USPS improve efficiency and network management.

To see the latest results, go to the Enterprise Analytics site and select “Analytics Tools,” followed by “DES 2 — Scan Performance.”

Cookies ’n stamps. A new holiday stamp is available for customers who use USPS self-service kiosk machines.

The stamp — which features a close-up image of the decorated cookies that appear on one of this year’s Christmas Carols stamps — is only available for purchase during the holidays at Post Offices with self-service kiosks in their retail lobbies.

Link needs your help. Link is planning a story about the preservation of a time-honored tradition: mailing greeting cards to family and friends during the holidays.

Do you know someone who still sends holiday cards? If so, we may be interested in speaking to him or her.

Send us an email at and we’ll be in touch.

Got news for “Need to know”? Email your submissions to