After the fires

Postal customer receives mail from woman

Postal Service employees and customers are rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of the historic wildfires that raged through California last month.

The Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history, killed at least 85 people and destroyed more than 18,000 buildings in Northern California. In the greater Los Angeles area, the Woolsey Fire claimed three lives and destroyed 1,600 structures.

USPS has resumed service in most areas, although employees and customers know the road to recovery is just beginning.

“This fire is much worse than the other fires I’ve been through,” said Kenric Smith, a 30-year letter carrier in Malibu. “People think the people who live in Malibu are all rich, but a lot of my customers are older and they have been living in their homes for years. They lost everything.”

Throughout the state, employees are going the extra mile to help customers get back on their feet. On weekends, Oakville Postmaster Julie Burns assists the Chico Post Office, where she helps customers affected by the Camp Fire can pick up their parcels and mail.

“I’m really happy to help out when I can,” Burns said.

Almost a dozen Post Offices in the state were evacuated during the fires, but only one facility — the Point Dume office in Malibu — was damaged. Although the Camp Fire destroyed much of the town of Paradise, the local Post Office was spared.

USPS has accounted for all employees, including more than 60 workers who lost homes during the two blazes, which are now contained.

Pacific Area Vice President Larry Munoz, who recently toured Paradise, said employees are eager to help restore normalcy to the communities.

“As rebuilding begins — literally and emotionally — customers look to the Postal Service for support,” he said.

Strako appointment

Chief Customer and Marketing Officer Jacqueline Krage Strako

Jacqueline Krage Strako has been named the Postal Service’s chief customer and marketing officer.

Strako, who has served in the role on an acting basis since February, oversees all domestic and international product marketing, development and management.

This includes responsibility for the Customer Relations, Product Innovation, Marketing, Global Business and Sales organizations, as well as the Customer Care Centers and Stamp Services.

“With her deep understanding of the organization, our customers and the marketplace, she has quickly advanced corporate strategy development to improve the customer experience, align the Postal Service’s goals to effectively meet customers’ needs and build a more customer-centric organization in an increasingly digital and rapidly evolving marketplace,” Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan wrote in a memo announcing the appointment last week.

During her 28-year postal career, Strako has held several operations, finance, budget and industrial engineering positions. She most recently served as Great Lakes Area vice president.

Avoiding conflicts

Help Wanted sign

The Postal Service wants you to remember the rules on “moonlighting” — working for other employers while continuing to work for USPS.

Federal ethics regulations don’t prohibit you from engaging in outside activities — unless doing so would cause a conflict with your official duties. This would happen if the outside activity creates a financial conflict of interest or the appearance that you aren’t impartially performing your postal job duties.

Here are some things to remember:

• You’re prohibited from engaging in any outside employment or business activities with certain types of organizations, including Amazon, FedEx, UPS and DHL. For other types of employment, you must obtain approval from the USPS Ethics Office before taking the job.

• You must also obtain prior approval from the Ethics Office before taking a job or engaging in business activities with organizations or individuals with whom you have official dealings on behalf of the Postal Service.

• If you take a job or engage in business with an outside organization, the work can’t affect your postal work. For example, you must continue to maintain regular, on-time attendance with USPS.

The Ethics Blue page has more information. If you have questions, call the ethics hotline at 202-268-6346 or send an email to

In the mail

Postal Uniform Guidelines handbook

The new guidebook for employee uniforms is coming to a mailbox near you.

USPS is mailing Postal Uniform Guidelines to Post Offices across the nation. Each office will receive two copies of the book — one for delivery employees and one for retail employees.

The organization wants managers and supervisors to use the book as a visual tool to help ensure employees wear their uniforms properly. The guidelines are part of the Postal Service’s broader efforts to promote and protect its brand and provide customers with excellent experiences, a core strategy.

The 21-page book features head-to-toe color photographs of actual uniformed employees, including letter carriers, retail associates and motor vehicle operators.

The hard copy version of the book is spiral-bound for easy reference. Post Offices should receive the books during the week of Dec. 10.

The guidebook, which debuted in October, is also available in a digital format on the Postal Communicator’s Toolbox, a Blue site.

Holiday heritage

Sparking Holidays stamps featuring Santa Claus

The Postal Service’s new Sparkling Holidays stamps feature images of Santa Claus that originally appeared in Coca-Cola advertisements from the 1940s-1960s. Here are five facts about the special connection between Santa and Coca-Cola.

1. Santa has been featured in Coke ads since the 1920s. Coca-Cola began its Christmas advertising almost a century ago with ads in magazines like The Saturday Evening Post. These early ads used a strict-looking Santa, in the vein of Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast’s images.

2. Coca-Cola has helped shape Santa’s image. In 1931, the company commissioned illustrator Haddon Sundblom for a campaign that depicted Santa as warm, friendly and pleasantly plump. Sundblom went on to create Santa images for Coke until 1964, although the company continued to feature his paintings in its advertising for several decades to follow.

3. People loved Coke’s Santa images. Consumers paid such close attention to the ads that when anything changed, they sent letters to the company. For example, one year, Santa Claus appeared without a wedding ring, causing fans to write asking what happened to Mrs. Claus.

4. Santa got a friend in 1942. That year, Coca-Cola introduced “Sprite Boy,” a character who appeared with Santa in the company’s advertising throughout the 1940s and 1950s. Sprite Boy, who was also created by Sunblom, got his name because he was a sprite, or an elf. It wasn’t until the 1960s that Coca-Cola introduced the popular beverage Sprite.

5. In 2001, Santa became animated. At the dawn of the 21st century, artwork from a 1963 Sundblom painting was the basis for an animated TV commercial starring the Coca-Cola Santa. The ad was created by Academy Award-winning animator Alexandre Petrov.

The Coca-Cola site has more information about the history of the company’s Santa Claus advertising. Got ideas for future editions of “The list”? Email them to