Happy holidays

Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan

The following message is from Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan:

I want to take a moment to thank you for your dedication and service to our customers this holiday season.

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, you will deliver more than 15 billion pieces of mail and 900 million packages.

Many of those mailpieces are cards conveying holiday wishes and letters reaffirming the bonds of family and friendship. And many of those packages are gifts that will bring joy to their recipients of all ages.

Your efforts during the holidays help us earn our customers’ trust and loyalty and demonstrate the Postal Service’s value to the American public. As postal employees, we take great pride in serving our customers at every touch point.

On behalf of our executive leadership team, I wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday season.

Hail to the chief

Chief Postal Inspector Guy Cottrell

Chief Postal Inspector Guy Cottrell will retire Dec. 31 after more than three decades with USPS, including eight-and-a-half years leading the Inspection Service.

Under Cottrell’s leadership, the Inspection Service played a larger role in dealing with cybersecurity crimes and shaping the nation’s response to the opioid crisis, including preparing the organization for expanded authority under the STOP Act, a law to stem the flow of foreign drugs into the United States.

Cottrell also more closely aligned the Inspection Service with USPS operations, including greater integration of systems and internal communications to better protect employees and customers.

Additionally, he led innovative efforts to promote crime prevention and consumer awareness, including the Consumer Alert News Network and other programs that deliver fraud prevention messages to tens of millions of consumers, as well as Operation Protect Veterans, a partnership with AARP to warn former and active service members about scams.

“We can’t arrest our way out of postal crimes, so we need to educate the American public about scams so they don’t become victims,” Cottrell said.

Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan praised Cottrell’s “highly effective” leadership in a memo announcing his retirement last week.

“Guy has been a strong leader of the 2,766 men and women of the Postal Inspection Service, and has been a consistent promoter of the Inspection Service brand — within the Postal Service and with the public. He has deepened Inspection Service partnerships, information sharing and collaborative investigations with national, state and local law enforcement organizations,” Brennan wrote.

Cottrell began his postal career in 1987 as a letter carrier in his hometown of New Orleans. He later served in several roles for the Inspection Service, including postal inspector, inspector in charge for field operations and deputy chief inspector.

Treats for troops

U.S. Air Force personnel in Spain open holiday packages

USPS employees and customers are working together to send cheer to service members during the holidays.

The organization expects to process more than 16 million pounds of mail for overseas Department of Defense and Department of State recipients during this year’s holiday season.

In St. Paul, MN, employees recently participated in a two-day Shop, Ship and Share event where volunteers purchased gifts for military members, then packaged them in Priority Mail boxes for shipment overseas.

“We’re proud to be a part of this event,” St. Paul Postmaster John Morgan said.

Meanwhile, employees at Keith D. Olgeby Station in Greenville, SC, shipped more than 100 boxes of cookies to troops.

“It doesn’t matter if it is our son, daughter or the neighbor’s son or daughter, we all have connections to our military,” said Station Manager Michael Post.

Volunteers in Spokane, WA, shipped care packages — comprised of snacks, toiletries and handmade holiday cards from local schoolchildren — to Air Force personnel at Morón Air Base in Spain.

“For our airmen, bringing these packages out to Morón AB reminds them they are not forgotten and they are appreciated for their service to our country,” said Col. Derek Salmi, a refueling wing commander at the base.

Gathering together

Man and woman celebrating Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa, the subject of a new stamp from USPS, begins Wednesday, Dec. 26. Here are five things to know about the annual celebration.

1. Kwanzaa began 52 years ago. Maulana Karenga, a professor of Africana studies at California State University, established Kwanzaa as a cultural celebration of African heritage and family in 1966.

2. Kwanzaa derives its name from a Swahili phrase. The phrase, “matunda ya kwanza,” means “first fruits.”

3. Three colors are associated with the celebration. The colors are black for people of African ancestry, red for noble blood and green for the lands of Africa.

4. The celebration lasts for seven days. Each day focuses on one of seven guiding principles: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba) and faith (imani).

5. Candles are a key part of Kwanzaa. Celebrations often feature seven candles — three red, one black and three green — that are placed in a kinara, a candle holder. One candle is lit each day to honor Kwanzaa’s seven principles.

Got ideas for future editions of “The list”? Email them to uspslink@usps.gov.