Sharing the love

The Loveland, CO, Post Office hearts Valentine’s Day — big time.

The office operates a program that allows customers from around the world to send pre-addressed Valentine’s Day cards and letters to Loveland to receive the city’s heart-shaped postmark before the pieces are mailed to spouses, sweethearts and others.

More than 110,000 cards and letters receive the postmark, which is applied by dozens of volunteers from the community.

“I think we have a lot of love in this world, and this is a great way of passing it on,” said Jeanne Perrine, a postal retiree who now volunteers for the program.

Loveland’s program, which began in 1947, is billed as the largest of its kind. Other communities across the nation — including Romeo, MI; Juliette, GA; and Bliss, NY — also offer special postmarks for Valentine’s Day.

In addition to promoting mail, the postmarks allow the Post Offices to strengthen their community ties.

For example, the Valentine, TX, Post Office, about 160 miles southeast of El Paso, receives about 12,000 requests annually for its pictorial postmark, which is selected from a design contest held each year with local schoolchildren.

“In this age of automation, it is very fulfilling to be the person who adds a human hand-stamped touch of love to valentines going all over the country and abroad to that special someone,” said Valentine Postmaster Ismelda Ornelas.

Likewise, Loveland, located about 46 miles north of Denver, introduces its postmark each year at a kickoff event that serves as a warm-up for the Sweetheart Festival, which the city holds every Valentine’s Day.

At this year’s kickoff event, volunteers applied the postmark to the first batch of mailpieces.

Additionally, a brief poem was stamped on the pieces: “Dan Cupid continues to play his part — though he doesn’t text or tweet — he knows a Loveland Valentine is a sweeter treat.”

Taking credit

Soldier walking while holding a USPS package.

Military veterans employed by the Postal Service, or any other federal agency, may be eligible to have their time in the military credited toward their civilian retirement through the Military Buy Back program.

Veterans who served on active duty and received an honorable discharge are permitted to request a “buy back” of their time in service. Doing so not only adds time to an employee’s years of civilian service with the government, but also increases their retirement annuity.

To have their military service count toward their Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) annuity, employees must make a military service credit deposit to buy into the annuity.

CSRS employees who were hired before Oct. 1, 1982, and will become eligible for Social Security at age 62 or at retirement will see their annuity reduced by 2 percent for every year served in the military unless a deposit is made. CSRS employees hired after Sept. 30, 1982, must make a deposit to receive credit for their military service in their retirement computation date and annuity.

To begin the process, former service members must contact the USPS Human Resources Shared Service Center (HRSSC) to request a military buyback kit. The kit contains directions on requesting military records, including an estimation of earnings during military service and a copy of the employee’s DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.

After HRSSC receives the required information, the center provides a balance amount to the employee along with options for payment. Employees may elect to pay the deposit through payroll deductions, installment payments or a lump sum.

The military service deposit must be paid in full prior to a veteran’s retirement date. Although employees must pay the deposit before their civilian retirement date, the remaining amount begins to accrue interest charges after the first three years of employment.

Separated and non-career employees are not eligible to participate.

The Human Resources Shared Service Center Blue page has more information.

Keep it going

Notebook computer sitting on a desk.

The Postal Service wants employees who plan to retire before Aug. 2 to know they can still support the Combined Federal Campaign after they leave the organization.

Retiring employees’ donations to the 2019-20 campaign, also known as the CFC, end when they receive their last paycheck.

However, employees can ensure their pledges continue through the end of the year by registering through the online pledge system as a federal retiree.

Two options are available:

• Retirees can set up automatic withdrawals from a postal annuity, using their Social Security number.

• Retirees can also make a one-time payment or set up a recurring bank account withdrawal or credit card charge. A Social Security number is not required for this option.

After Aug. 1, the pledging system will close for donations to prepare for the start of the 2020-21 charity drive.

The CFC allows federal employees, retirees and contractors to contribute to charitable organizations during campaigns that begin each fall.

Presidents Day

Collage of stamps showing John F. Kennedy and George H.W. Bush

This year, Presidents Day is Monday, Feb. 17.

The annual observance honoring U.S. presidents began with celebrations commemorating George Washington during the early 19th century. After Washington’s death in 1799, his birthday was celebrated informally across the young nation.

In 1879, Congress declared Feb. 22 — Washington’s birthday — a federal holiday.

A 1968 law moved the Washington’s Birthday holiday to the third Monday of each February.

With the holiday no longer attached to the former president’s date of birth, the day came to symbolize the recognition of a growing list of presidents.

Today, the date is widely accepted as an occasion to celebrate all U.S. commanders in chief.

In addition to observing Presidents Day, the Postal Service salutes presidents through its stamp program.

Two presidents have been featured on stamps in recent years: John F. Kennedy, the 35th president, who served from 1961-1963 and was honored with a stamp in 2017, and George H.W. Bush, the 41st president, who served from 1989-1993 and was honored with a stamp last year.

News Briefs

Scanning snapshot

USPS employee sorts mail at a postal plant.

Scanning snapshot. The Postal Service’s scanning snapshot for the week ending Feb. 7 doesn’t look much different from the snapshot from one week earlier.

The national score was 97.76 percent, down slightly from 97.79 percent.

Western (98.02 percent) led the areas and Dakotas (99.09 percent) topped the districts, just as they did during the week ending Jan. 31, although both jurisdictions were down slightly.

No area improved its score last week, although some of the 67 districts did, including San Diego (98.04 percent), which moved into 23rd place, up from 44th one week earlier, and Baltimore (97.79 percent), which reached the 36th spot, up from 57th.

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.”

Presidents Day. The Postal Service is providing managers, supervisors and others with general operating policy and planning guidance for Presidents Day, also known as Washington’s Birthday, a federal holiday that will be observed Monday, Feb. 17.

A new memo, available on Blue, explains guidelines for delivery, retail, processing, international service, maintenance and logistics operations.

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