Sincerely, Mailman Kyle

How many journeys to the White House start with a roll of toilet paper?

That’s exactly what led Cincinnati Letter Carrier Kyle West — now known to millions as “Mailman Kyle” — to the Blue Room on May 1 to receive praise from President Donald Trump during a recognition ceremony dubbed “Hard Work, Heroism and Hope.”

West was one of several people invited to the nation’s capital to highlight their charitable responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the case of the 23-year-old letter carrier, he had been moved by a customer’s plea for help in March.

The homebound man, who has dementia, desperately needed toilet paper.

West gladly gave him a roll, and he soon decided to reach out to 400 of the most vulnerable customers on his route — namely older folks trying to avoid coronavirus exposure, and those with lower incomes who are struggling financially as the pandemic takes an economic toll.

He distributed a note with his phone number: “If you are at risk and need help getting essential items, let me know. I will do what I can to help. Sincerely, Mailman Kyle.”

West heard from around 50 customers with urgent needs, as well as countless others thanking him and offering to donate necessities — such as toilet paper, milk, paper towels and soap — that he distributes while delivering mail.

“It’s a lot to deal with, but it’s not a hassle,” West said. “I love these people and they love me. I like helping them.”

Angelena Fondenberger, West’s supervisor at Cincinnati’s Groesbeck Branch, said he “brought a lot of his route and the community together.”

He also received significant media attention, including coverage from Good Morning America,” CNN, People and John Krasinski’s popular new web series, Some Good News.” The episode featuring West has garnered nearly 6 million views so far on YouTube.

Then came word that West was wanted at the White House.

A whirlwind trip ensued, including his first plane ride. He points out that his responsibilities as a hard-working dad with a 5-year-old son have long kept him close to home, although he enjoyed Washington and hopes to return someday.

In the Blue Room ceremony, Trump had affirming words for West before asking him to speak: “Kyle, your love for your neighbors lifts us and the entire nation.”

“Thank you, Mr. President,” West responded. “I’m greatly honored to be here to represent my fellow postal employees as we continue to provide our essential services to America.”

He touched on customers’ displays of gratitude, the critical items they count on receiving by mail and the organization’s commitment to safety during the pandemic, before concluding:  “I’m very proud to work for the Postal Service and to deliver for our country.”

Back on the job in Cincinnati, West recalls his White House experience fondly, even if it was a bit nerve-racking, and he hopes the actions that got him there will inspire others in these worrisome pandemic times.

“If anyone’s at risk, step up,” he said. “Let’s treat each other like family and get through this, so we can get our normal lives back. We all want this to be over.”

Parental guidance

If you’re a Postal Service employee who is sheltering at home with your children during the coronavirus pandemic, the organization wants you to monitor their online activity.

Many schools are closed, so youngsters are probably online more than ever — either doing schoolwork or entertaining themselves, which could potentially expose them to questionable content, scammers and predators.

Setting restrictions on home computers and other personal devices can help protect children and prevent unauthorized individuals from gaining access to your personal information.

To further protect children online, the CyberSafe at USPS team offers these tips:

• Ensure all security software is up to date on your personal and work devices.

• Monitor your children’s online activity, including interactive video games that have chatting capabilities.

• When children are online, ask what they are doing and who they are communicating with.

Reminder: USPS-issued computers and mobile devices should never be used by family members for any reason.

The CyberSafe at USPS Blue and LiteBlue pages have additional information on cybersecurity best practices.

Show of thanks

The Postal Service has released a video for National Military Appreciation Month that recognizes military veteran employees for their contributions to the nation and USPS.

“Every day, you show your true grit, stand in the gap, perform in critical roles and continue that spirit of service,” Employee Resource Management Vice President Simon Storey says in the video. “Every day, you show why you are vital to our mission of binding the nation together.”

The Postal Service will highlight the video in the next issue of Mail Call Quarterly, the organization’s newsletter for employees who served in the armed forces. The newsletter will feature a QR code that, when scanned, will allow the recipient to watch the video online.

Additionally, to express its gratitude, USPS is distributing to veterans certificates of appreciation and thank-you letters, both signed by Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan.

Veterans marking five years of service with the organization this year will receive a letter from the Postmaster General, a thank-you card and a #PostalProud challenge coin by mail.

Flag reminders

USPS is reminding employees about special flag requirements for two holidays this month:

• Peace Officers Memorial Day, which honors police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty, is Friday, May 15.

Postal Service facilities are required to fly the U.S. flag at half-staff this day. When the U.S. flag is flown at half-staff, all other flags must fly at half-staff, too.

To fly the flag at half-staff, hoist the flag to the peak for an instant and then lower it to the half-staff position. The flag should be raised to the peak again before it’s lowered for the day.

• Memorial Day, a federal holiday to remember the men and women who died while serving in the armed forces, is Monday, May 25.

Facilities that are open on the holiday must fly the U.S. flag at half-staff.

The U.S. flag must be flown at half-staff from sunrise — or the hour when it’s raised — until noon. Then, hoist the flag to the peak of the staff, where it either must fly until the time of closing or no later than sunset (unless the flag is lighted).

Again, when the U.S. flag is flown at half-staff, all other flags must fly at half-staff, too.

Facilities that fly the flag at all times and are closed Memorial Day should lower the flag to half-staff when the facility closes prior to the holiday. Return the flag to full staff when the facility opens Tuesday, May 26.

For more information, refer to the Postal Service’s guidelines for U.S. flag display and maintenance, as well as requirements for displaying the POW-MIA flag.