Thanks, Santa

Child writing with pencil

Participation surged to record levels last year in a Postal Service program that helps employees and customers fulfill the holiday wishes of those less fortunate.

Through Operation Santa, individuals and organizations “adopt” letters to Santa Claus from families in need and fulfill their requests, which often involve basic necessities like food and clothing.

More than 12,760 letters were adopted in 2019, the highest number in the program’s long history and an increase of more than 240 percent from the year before.

Approximately 11,300 packages were shipped through USPS to children and families in response to their letters, while the Operation Santa website received 949,420 visitors, about 20 times the number of visitors from the previous year.

“We continue to answer wishes big and small with this program and spread joy that gives such a meaning to the Christmas holiday,” said Chicago Customer Services Manager Janice Hall, who serves as an Operation Santa “chief elf” each year.

Operation Santa traces its roots to 1912, when postal workers and customers began adopting children’s letters to Santa.

USPS offered several versions of Operation Santa in 2019, including a digital program where letters are posted online for adoption and a legacy program in Chicago and New York City where letters can be adopted in person.

Postal Service leaders attribute the participation spike to these changes, including a modification that allowed individuals nationwide to adopt letters.

A customer in Oakdale, CA, wrote to USPS to express his gratitude for the package his granddaughter received on Christmas morning.

“[She] opened her package from Santa Claus and was overjoyed to say the least,” he wrote.

The man added: “I am sure Santa needs little encouragement from an old grandfather, but for what it is worth, please tell Santa his work is beyond compare and to please keep it up.”

To the rescue

Postal employee sits on a chair with her pet dog by her side.

Sarah Andrews has had a passion for helping animals for as long as she can remember.

This is why Andrews, an associate instructional designer at USPS headquarters in Washington, DC, contributes to two Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) charities that support her favorite cause: Anti Animal Cruelty Campaign, which provides food for neglected animals, and Animal Legal Defense Fund, which provides support for animals after they’ve been rescued.

She found the organizations by searching through the CFC catalog.

“It’s wonderful to give back,” Andrews said.

In addition to giving money to help animals, she and her husband welcome them into her home. They recently adopted a rescue dog named Indy from a local animal shelter.

“I named him after Indiana Jones because he escaped from the family he was with,” she said.

The CFC is the government’s annual workplace charity drive. Andrews encourages colleagues to support causes that matter to them by searching for charities that participate in the campaign and making donations before the Sunday, Jan. 12, deadline.

For Andrews, donating to her favorite CFC charities is about more than just saving animals.

“It’s about the ongoing rewarding benefit and future preventive measures,” she said.

FEGLI FYIs

The Postal Service wants employees to know about Federal Employee Group Life Insurance (FEGLI), the life insurance program available to federal workers.

For example, did you know that FEGLI rates increase every five years?

Any time your age ends in a 0 or 5, your life insurance premiums will increase. You can use the FEGLI online calculator to determine if you have sufficient coverage.

Also: If you decide that you’d like to reduce or cancel your coverage, you’re no longer required to complete and submit SF 2817, Life Insurance Selection.

Instead, you can use a new module on the PostalEASE site that allows current employees to reduce or cancel their coverage at any time. Newly hired or recently converted employees can also access PostalEase to make their initial election.

And keep in mind: If you experience a qualified life event — such as a marriage, birth or divorce — you can increase your FEGLI coverage, although you’ll need to contact the USPS Human Resources Shared Service Center within 60 days of the event to adjust your coverage.

Newly hired employees can also use PostalEASE to make their FEGLI initial election. Enrollments must occur within 60 days of the new employee’s start date.

The FEGLI LiteBlue page has more information.

Year of the Rat

The Postal Service will release its Year of the Rat stamp, the first entry in a new Lunar New Year series, on Saturday, Jan. 11.

Lunar New Year, an important holiday for many Asian communities, is celebrated primarily by people of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tibetan, Mongolian, Malaysian and Filipino heritage.

The rat is the first of the 12 zodiac animal signs associated with the Chinese lunar calendar. The Year of the Rat begins Jan. 25, and ends Feb. 11, 2021.

The stamp features a rat mask that calls to mind the elaborately decorated masks used in the dragon dance, a feature of Lunar New Year parades. The image offers a contemporary take on the long tradition of the paper-cut folk art crafts that are another Lunar New Year hallmark.

Antonio Alcalá, a USPS art director, designed the stamp with original artwork by Camille Chew.

The Postal Service’s two previous Lunar New Year stamp series ran from 1992-2004 and 2008-2019.

The Year of the Rat stamp will be available in panes of 12 at Post Offices and usps.com.

News Briefs

Scanning snapshot

Postal employee scans mail at a plant.

Scanning snapshot. The Postal Service’s national scanning rate was 97.55 percent during the week ending Jan. 3, down less than 1 percent from one week earlier.

After dropping to second place during the week ending Dec. 27, Western (97.81 percent) reclaimed its frequent perch as the top-rated area, while Dakotas (98.88 percent) continued to lead the districts.

All seven areas were down less than 1 percent from a week earlier.

Most districts also dipped, although there were a few exceptions. Among the biggest gainers: Seattle District, where the average score was 98.08 percent, up a half-percentage point from a week ago — moving the district from 48th place during the week ending Dec. 27 to 14th place during the week ending Jan. 3.

Scanning data allows customers to track their mail and packages, which helps USPS deliver excellent service, boost loyalty and drive revenue.

To see the latest data, go to the Informed Visibility website and select “Customer Experience,” followed by “DES 2 Scan Performance.”

Annual report. The Postal Service delivered 142 billion mailpieces and recorded more than $71 billion in total revenue during fiscal year 2019 (Oct. 1, 2018-Sept. 30, 2019), according to the organization’s recently published Annual Report to Congress.

The 44-page report, which is available on usps.com, offers financial information, operational statistics, performance data and more.

Capital news. The Postal Service recently mailed Capital Metro Area Update’s latest issue to employees in the area.

The newsletter, which is available on Blue and LiteBlue, features articles about customer service, revenue from passport applications and Every Door Direct Mail, and other topics.

Got news? Email your submissions to uspslink@usps.gov.