Remembering firefighters

Postal Service facilities that are open Sundays should fly the U.S. flag at half-staff on Sunday, May 7, which is National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service Day.

USPS facilities that fly the flag at all times and are closed Sundays should lower the flag to half-staff when the facility closes prior to National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service Day. Return the flag to full staff when the facility next opens for business.

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.

The USPS Administrative Support Manual has guidelines on U.S. flag display and maintenance.

Stamp Out Hunger

Postal Service employees will step up to Stamp Out Hunger — an annual food drive to help feed those in need — on Saturday, May 13.

The National Association of Letter Carriers leads the one-day event, with help from USPS, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, the AFL-CIO, the Kellogg Co., CVS Health, Valpak, United Way Worldwide, Vericast and local food pantries.

To participate, USPS customers are asked to fill a bag with healthy, nonperishable food items and place it by their mailbox for mail carriers to pick up. During the drive, postal employees collect the food and donate it to local food banks and pantries.

Stamp Out Hunger is the nation’s largest one-day food drive, with 1.82 billion pounds of food collected since it began in 1993 — including 41.2 million pounds last year.

The drive is held in spring because many schools suspend their breakfast and lunch programs for the summer, leaving millions of kids in need of alternative sources of nutrition.

“That makes the timing of the food drive crucial,” said NALC President Brian L. Renfroe. “Letter carriers go out on their routes and see up close what their communities need.”

More than 34 million Americans, including 9 million children, experience food insecurity and rely on food donations, according to a video on the NALC website.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of in-person food collection in 2020 and 2021. In its place, NALC held virtual drives for online donations. Last year, when in-person collection resumed, the option to contribute online was retained.

The Stamp Out Hunger site has additional information for this year’s drive, including a toolkit for participants, promotional materials, community engagement guidelines and ways to contribute online.

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The Postal Service will release a stamp in honor of Tomie dePaola, an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator, on May 5.

DePaola (1934-2020) produced a body of work that encompasses folktales and legends, informational books, religious and holiday stories, and autobiographical tales.

He is probably best known for the “Strega Nona” picture book series. Published in 1975, the first book in the series received a Caldecott Honor.

Set in southern Italy, the stories focus on Strega Nona — Grandma Witch — who uses magic to help with matters of the heart and to cure her neighbors’ ills.

In 2011, dePaola received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award (now the Children’s Literature Legacy Award) for his “substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.”

He died on March 30, 2020, in Lebanon, NH.

The Forever stamp, featuring a detail from the cover of “Strega Nona,” will be available in panes of 20 at Post Offices and on

Beyond words

The Postal Service is reminding employees and contractors that passwords like 123456 might be easy to remember, but they are also easy for online criminals to hack.

Simple passwords are easily deciphered by software used by cybercriminals to hack into accounts. Compromised passwords lead to account breaches.

Passwords that incorporate special characters instead of letters aren’t much of a challenge either, because the software recognizes “predictable strategies meant to make passwords more complex,” according to a report on the Guardian news site.

Passphrases — passwords that consist of three or more random words strung together to create phrases — are more difficult to hack, the report noted.

The FBI recommends using passphrases, which can also incorporate special characters, as online passwords

Employees and contractor are reminded that USPS passwords — including passphrases — must be at least 15 characters in length for all internal platforms (except mobile devices) and include the following:

• One uppercase letter;

• One lowercase letter; and

• One numeral.

Employees and contractors are encouraged to avoid using personal information, such as family names and birthdays, and to not repeat letters or characters.

The USPS Management Instruction on Password Complexity and the CyberSafe at USPS Blue and LiteBlue pages have more information.