‘Sparky’ of genius

The Postal Service released its latest stamps — a salute to cartoonist Charles M. “Sparky” Schulz — at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, CA, on Sept. 30.

“The Postal Service is pleased to present its new Forever stamps commemorating the birth centennial of Charles M. Schulz, the beloved creator of ‘Peanuts,’ the most popular and influential comic strip in history,” said Luke Grossmann, the organization’s finance and strategy senior vice president, who helped dedicate the stamp.

Joining Grossmann for the ceremony were Gina Huntsinger, director of the Museum and Research Center; Paige Braddock, chief creative officer of Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates; and Schulz’s widow, Jean Schulz.

“The joy of ‘Peanuts’ — matched with the joy of sending and receiving mail — is a wonderful way to commemorate Sparky’s life and the happiness his comic strip continues to bring to the world,” Jean Schulz said.

“From holiday mail to personal collections, we hope these stamps brighten the lives of ‘Peanuts’ fans and stamp collectors alike,” she added.

The stamps are available at Post Offices and usps.com in panes of 20 and feature 10 of Schulz’s best-known characters, including Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Woodstock.

Charles Monroe Schulz (1922-2000) was born in Minnesota and given the nickname Sparky as an infant by his uncle, who was inspired by a then-trending character in the funny pages.

At the age of 14, Schulz published his first drawing. It centered on his eccentric pet dog and appeared in the “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” newspaper feature.

Schulz served in World War II after graduating from high school, then worked as an art instructor alongside a colleague named Charlie Brown.

He supplemented his income by lettering comic books, drawing single-panel cartoons for local papers, and selling cartoons to the Saturday Evening Post.

On Oct. 2, 1950, “Peanuts” debuted in seven papers. That modest seven papers eventually ballooned to 2,600 in 75 countries and 21 languages: a total of 355 million readers worldwide.

While “Peanuts” grew into a cultural phenomenon with television specials, books, Broadway shows and films, Schulz stayed true to his creation, never farming out work. He wrote, drew, inked and lettered every panel of “Peanuts.”

He died from complications of colon cancer on Feb. 12, 2000.

His final strip — a farewell to fans — was published the next day.

Cybersafety first

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, an observance whose importance has grown exponentially since it was established in 2004.

The theme chosen by the USPS Corporate Information Security Office this year — Stay CyberSafe and Deliver for America — emphasizes the critical role cybersecurity plays in supporting the Delivering for America plan.

A good first step for postal employees is to go to the USPS CyberSafe page, which offers:

• Monthly awareness campaigns with posters, infographics, newsletters and other resources that explain cybersecurity best practices for work and home;

CyberSafe Guardians, a resource hub for the volunteers who spread cybersecurity awareness best practices to their co-workers;

Virtual awareness activities that provide prepackaged activities that can be tailored to individual teams to help instill best practices and USPS policy awareness;

CyberSafe Studio, short and entertaining videos made by the USPS Training and Awareness team that put cyberthreats into real-life scenarios; and

Incident reporting information for lost or stolen devices and for the Postal Service’s phishing initiative — Report to CyberSafe.

The CyberSafe team will update the site with additional materials related to the awareness month throughout October.

A room of one’s own

The Combined Federal Campaign’s cause of the week is housing and shelter.

One of the silver linings of the pandemic was that fewer people were homeless, thanks to coronavirus relief funds and eviction moratoriums.

According to a 2021 assessment by the Department of Housing and Urban Development:

• The number of sheltered families with children declined considerably between 2020 and 2021.

• The share of emergency shelter beds located in hotels, motels and other buildings with private, noncommunal sleeping rooms increased by 134 percent.

But the relief funds and eviction moratoriums have ended, and as the National Alliance to End Homelessness notes, rising rental prices and accelerating inflation are likely to increase homelessness this year. Donating to nonprofits that address housing and shelter is one way to help.

If you are unsure of where to focus your giving in this category, the website for the campaign, also known as the CFC, makes it easy:

• Under “CFC Giving System” on the homepage, choose the “Online Charity Search” link.

• You will be brought to “Find a Charity.” Under “Select a Specific Category, choose “Housing and Shelter.”

Page after page of housing- and shelter-related charities can help guide your choice.

The Combined Federal Campaign is the federal government’s workplace charity drive.

The latest campaign began Sept. 1 and runs through Jan. 14.

Participation in the CFC is voluntary.

The GiveCFC.org website has more information.

This is the third in a series of articles spotlighting the Combined Federal Campaign’s cause of the week. Next week: disaster response.