Heaven-sent

It took nearly three decades for Ken Rodin to get the tallest order of his postal career.

And it came from his smallest customer: 4-year-old Maci Hopkins.

The Bristol, CT, carrier technician recalls the little girl’s words one day recently when she ran outside to meet him:

“Mr. Mailman, I have to give you a letter!”

As he took it and saw that it was a drawing of a dog, he noticed that Maci’s beloved canine companion, Kendal — always by her side — was nowhere to be seen.

“Can you bring this letter to heaven?”

Rodin realized instantly this wasn’t child’s play, and he knew how he must respond:

“Sure, Maci. I’ll take a letter to heaven for you.”

That might have been enough to comfort the grieving girl, whose pet had died at 13, but as the day went on, Rodin felt compelled to do more.

“Kendal was the nicest dog,” Rodin said. “She was always very sweet to Maci. I knew they were best friends.”

Rodin thought of his own childhood: “If something happened, if you got in trouble, the dog was always right next to you, licking you, trying to make you happy. That’s what hit me afterward.”

He vowed then that not only would Maci believe her letter got to Kendal in heaven, she would receive a reply.

Rodin, who services the route once a week, soon printed one page with a simple message: “Thank you so much for my picture!! Love you!” — signed with the shape of a heart and a paw.

The next day, he gave the letter to the Hopkins family’s regular carrier. The following week, he was greeted by a much happier Maci.

“She was jumping up and down, telling me she’d gotten a letter from Kendal,” Rodin said. “Just to make her day, that made me feel good. I always try to cheer people up.”

Word of Rodin’s kind gesture soon spread far beyond the Hopkins household.

“When we told her she got a letter back, she hugged it,” Maci’s mom told The Dodo. “She told us it says Kendal loves her, misses her and that she will always be in her heart.”

Beaming as she held up the letter, Maci summed it up for NBC Connecticut this way: “It made me feel happy. I love her.”

Rodin’s first and only brush with heavenly correspondence reflects the way he always treats his customers.

“They’re like family,” he said. “You give hugs when someone dies. When kids fall off their bikes, you help them up. With so much bad stuff going on, doing this for Maci helped everyone feel better.”

Ready, set, go

The Postal Service will celebrate the many ways people appreciate the natural world when it releases its Enjoy the Great Outdoors stamps on Saturday, June 13.

The stamps depict five different scenes of various outdoor activities — building a sandcastle, hiking, cross-country skiing, canoeing and biking. The hand-sketched and painted designs are by artist Gregory Manchess, who uses light and shadow to evoke a sense of wonder about each landscape.

Surrounding the pane of 20 stamps is a painting showing trees and the bank of a body of water. The small figures of a canoe in the water and a man standing ashore holding an oar are visible at the top.

Derry Noyes, a USPS art director, designed the stamps, which will be available at Post Offices and usps.com.

Direct messages

The latest Thank You for the Thank-You’s video highlights more creative messages from customers who have expressed gratitude to USPS during the coronavirus pandemic.

One sign on a board reads: “Thank you, Carol. Be safe. We appreciate you!”

Other sentiments are expressed through handwritten notes and cheerful chalk drawings decorated with rainbows, stars and hearts.

The 30-second video is the ninth installment in a series.

USPS released the video last week and shared it on its social media channels, where the organization also distributed the previous eight installments.

Green days

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

1. Fill in the blank: The Postal Service has set a goal of receiving (blank) sales leads from employees during #LEADtheWayBack Month in June.

a) 2,000
b) 20,000
c) 200,000
d) 2 million

2. What does USPS want employees to carry with them while traveling during the coronavirus pandemic?

a) The organization’s “essential service provider letter”
b) Their Postal Service ID
c) Their supervisor’s name, telephone number and email address
d) All of the above

3. True or false: USPS General Counsel Thomas J. Marshall recently sent a letter to local and state election officials that explains Election Mail delivery processes and requirements.

a) True
b) False

4. Which Link column recently won an award?

a) “Best Practices”
b) “Heroes’ Corner”
c) “The List”
d) “On the Job”

5. What city is home to the Stonewall Inn, the gay-friendly tavern where a 1969 uprising sparked the birth of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights movement?

a) Boston
b) New York City
c) San Francisco
d) Washington, DC

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