‘We see the sacrifice’

Young woman hold envelopes.

A Sioux Falls, SD, girl’s recent “thank you” letter to her mail carrier has led to dozens of replies from Postal Service employees — and national media attention.

Emerson Weber, 11, loves to write letters to her friends and family and enjoys decorating the envelopes to make them more special. Last month, she decided to pen one for Letter Carrier Doug Scott.

“He sees letters that other people get and I wanted him to get a letter,” she said.

In her note, which she left in her mailbox, Emerson thanked Scott for collecting her letters and delivering them.

“The reason you are very important in my life is because I don’t have a phone, so how else am I supposed to stay in touch with my friends? You make it possible!” she wrote.

Scott, a 26-year USPS employee, was touched, especially given the challenges of working during the coronavirus pandemic.

“You’re out there touching everything, you’re wondering about if you’re going to get it,” Scott said. “The letter broke the ice and made me smile. It’s nice to be appreciated every now and then.”

He shared Emerson’s note with Customer Services Supervisor Sara Bell, who passed it along to Western Area’s Corporate Communications team. The note was then published in one of the area’s newsletters, sparking requests from employees who wanted to write to Emerson to thank her.

“As supervisors, we care and let carriers know how essential they are, especially during these times. However, hearing it from a young customer was probably way better,” Bell said. “We’ve gotten some other letters but this one struck a chord. When I was little I appreciated my mailman, and that’s part of the reason I joined the Postal Service.”

In addition to getting replies from Bell and Scott, Emerson has received more than 60 letters from postal employees, including Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan.

Many responses included personal stories, along with booklets of stamps to encourage her to keep using the mail.

“It was emotional,” said Emerson’s father, Hugh Weber. “We as a family sat and read them all aloud. She’s already responded and put them in the mail.”

Hugh shared his daughter’s original letter on social media, garnering millions of views and shares, along with messages supporting USPS. Good Morning America,” CNN and NPR have covered the story.

The messages are part of the outpouring of support from customers expressing appreciation for USPS, which is continuing to provide an essential service during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We see the sacrifice in what many postal families are doing right now,” Hugh said. “We want others to see the essential nature of the Postal Service.”

Said Emerson: “We really do need them because now it’s not safe to go out. They’re doing things we are afraid to do during this time.”

Delivering info

The Postal Service has introduced a website to provide customers and employees with the latest information on the organization’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The site, available at about.usps.com/newsroom/covid-19, explains how USPS — an essential public service during the crisis — is continuing operations while striving to protect employees and customers.

Customers working from home, small-business owners and commercial mailers will find information on a variety of postal products and services, including instructions on using Informed Delivery and having mail held at a local Post Office.

Employees will find several resources, including links to the COVID-19 LiteBlue page and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, which offers a list of symptoms, recommendations, updates and more.

Also included are videos on new safety procedures for vehicles, mail carriers and Post Offices, as well as “Thank You for the Thank-You’s,” a series of 30-second videos that showcase messages from customers who are grateful for the organization’s service.

Links to several government resources, including coronavirus.gov, the federal government’s primary website on the pandemic, are also included.

Home court

The Postal Service wants employees to know that the Hatch Act’s rules on politicking in the workplace also apply when working from home.

The Hatch Act is a law that prohibits USPS and other federal employees from engaging in political activity while on duty.

Under the Hatch Act, employees are “on duty” when they are in a “pay status” other than paid leave, compensatory time off, credit hours, time off as an incentive award, or when they are excused or have an authorized absence, including leave without pay.

Employees are also on duty when they represent the Postal Service in an official capacity.

Lunch is considered an off-duty activity.

Those maintaining a regular work schedule while teleworking have the same on-duty status as if they were reporting to their regular duty stations. In other words: These employees are subject to Hatch Act regulations.

Employees wishing to engage in political activity by, for example, posting their views about a candidate on social media or making political donations, must ensure they aren’t on duty when engaging in such activities.

Likewise, employees participating in virtual work-related conferences are subject to the same on-duty Hatch Act restrictions as when they attend meetings or communicate in-person with others at work.

This means employees shouldn’t wear campaign-related clothing while participating in a work-related video conference call, and they should ensure that partisan materials, like campaign signs or candidate pictures, are not visible to others during the call.

It’s also forbidden to add a background or profile photo showing support for or opposition to a political party, partisan political group or candidate for partisan political office.

While using social media to stay connected to others, it’s important to remember the Hatch Act’s social media guidelines.

The Ethics Blue page has more Hatch Act resources, including a Let’s Talk Politics! fact sheet. Employees who have questions can contact their local field law office or send an email to ethics.help@usps.gov.

‘True Blue’

USPS is offering special “True Blue” ReadyPost shipping supplies at select Post Offices, in time for Father’s Day.

Customers can purchase decorative box and bubble mailer designs that can be used for gift wrapping as well as mailing. The boxes fit inside Priority Mail boxes, making an ideal shipping item with added protection.

The Postal Service is encouraging retail associates to let customers know about these items, which are available while supplies last.

Reliable source

“News Quiz” is a weekly feature that lets you test your knowledge of recent Link stories. The correct answers appear at the end.

1. In a new survey by the Postal Service, what percentage of respondents said they rely more on mail as a result of social distancing?

a) 16.7 percent
b) 33.3 percent
c) 40 percent
d) 42 percent

2. How much will USPS customers and employees save when they purchase two Hallmark greeting cards at select Post Offices during the promotion underway through June 21?

a) 25 cents
b) 50 cents
c) 75 cents
d) $1

3. Fill in the blank: Postal Service employees pledged (blank) during the 2019-20 Combined Federal Campaign.

a) $6.7 million
b) $8.2 million
c) $191.6 million
d) $283 million

4. What’s the name of the promotion that USPS is offering mailers from April 1-June 30?

a) Earned Value
b) Emerging and Advanced Technology
c) Informed Delivery
d) Personalized Color

5. True or false: An estimated 650,000 people died in the United States during the 1918-19 influenza pandemic.

a) True
b) False

Answers: 1) d. 2) d. 3) a. 4) a. 5) a.