By the book

The South Dakota girl whose appreciation for the Postal Service captured headlines at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic has written a children’s book about the experience.

Sincerely, Emerson: A Girl, Her Letter and the Helpers All Around Us will be published Dec. 8 by HarperCollins.

“It’s kind of crazy,” said the author, Emerson Weber. “This all started out with me just wanting to thank my mail carrier.”

In April, Emerson, 11, who lives in Sioux Falls, wrote a note of thanks to her letter carrier, Doug Scott, for collecting and delivering the letters she writes to her friends and family. Touched by the gesture, Scott shared the note with a supervisor, who then included it in a local USPS newsletter.

Before long, Emerson began receiving replies from postal workers across the nation. The story soon found its way to social media, where Emerson caught the attention of her idol, Taylor Swift, and others — including a HarperCollins editor who signed the young writer to a deal and put her book on the fast track for publication during the holiday season.

In addition to Emerson’s words, “Sincerely, Emerson” features colorful illustrations by Jaclyn Sinquett, including pictures of Scott.

“It looks like me. Too much gray hair, though,” he said with a chuckle.

Scott, who works at Southwest Annex, said he’s not used to being in the limelight, but he’s glad to be an important part of Emerson’s life and to help showcase USPS.

“It is good for the Post Office to get some good press. People can see what we do every day,” he said.

While Emerson appreciates the opportunity, she also wants to keep the attention on her inspiration: the Postal Service.

“It is really meaningful that this story is going to get out,” she said. “It really brings attention to postal workers. We really need them.”

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‘Dear Santa’

“Dear Santa,” a documentary about USPS Operation Santa, will be released in select theaters and through video-on-demand on Friday, Dec. 4.

The film shines a light on the annual program that allows Postal Service employees, customers and organizations to “adopt” letters to Santa Claus and fulfill holiday wish lists from children and others who are less fortunate.

“Dear Santa” focuses on select Operation Santa locations — some in metropolitan areas like the massive operation in New York City and others in small towns where the local Post Office is the heart of the community — and highlights poignant letters from children.

USPS Operation Santa is credited with helping millions of children and families through the years.

The program traces its roots to 1912, when Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized postal workers and customers to respond to letters that Post Offices received for Santa Claus.

This year, the Postal Service is taking the program nationwide for the first time.

“Dear Santa” is directed by Dana Nachman, whose previous credits include “Witch Hunt,” “Love Hate Love,” “The Human Experiment,” “Batkid Begins” and “Pick of the Litter.”

The film’s website has more information, including details on how to watch the movie at home.

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Be flexible

Do you wear eyeglasses, contact lenses or visit the dentist more than twice a year? If so, experts say a flexible spending account (FSA) is likely a good option for you.

FSAs can help your health care dollars go further — but only if you plan accordingly.

FSAs allow you to set aside money on a pretax basis to pay for health care and dependent care expenses. You can enroll in an FSA during this year’s open season benefits enrollment period, which runs from Nov. 9-Dec. 14.

Beginning Jan. 1, the maximum amount you can contribute toward a health care FSA is $2,750 and $5,000 toward a dependent care FSA.

With a health care FSA, you can roll over as much as $550 into the next year if you reenroll. Anything above this amount must be used by Dec. 31.

You can learn more about FSAs on the Open Season and FSA LiteBlue pages.

Homing in

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

1. What is the title of this year’s USPS holiday commercial?

a) “Home”
b) “Home for the Holidays”
c) “Home Is Where the Heart Is”
d) “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”

2. When is the deadline to adopt a letter during this year’s USPS Operation Santa program?

a) Dec. 19
b) Dec. 20
c) Dec. 21
d) Dec. 22

3. Fill in the blank: Chien-Shiung Wu, who will be honored with a stamp next year, was a noted (blank).

a) Human rights activist
b) Legal scholar
c) Nuclear physicist
d) Political leader

4. True or false: Western Area and two of its districts, Dakotas and Hawkeye, were recently honored with Safety Leadership and Vision Awards.

a) True
b) False

5. Match the executive in Column A with his or her new job title in Column B.

Column A
a) Isaac Cronkhite
b) Simon Storey
c) Doug Tulino
d) Jenny Utterback

Column B
I) Chief human resources officer
II) Chief logistics and processing operations officer
III) Human resources vice president
IV) Organization development vice president

Answers: 1) a. 2) a. 3) c. 4) b. Western Area and Hawkeye and Northland districts received Safety Leadership and Vision Awards. 5) a. II., b. III., c. I., d. IV.

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