With the holiday season fast approaching, many already have started their Christmas shopping, but anyone with military family and friends stationed in other countries should be starting their Christmas mailing, too.
Officials at the Military Postal Service Agency in Washington have said that parcel post packages need to be sent by Nov. 13 in order to get holiday gifts to deployed service members by Dec. 25.
"The earlier they mail it the better, too," said Hector Rivera, customer service supervisor at the Kenai Post Office.
Rivera said mailing packages sooner rather than later is better for everyone involved because not only does it better ensure it will make it to the intended destination by the desired date, but also it cuts down on the volume of mail that comes in the closer the date is to Christmas.
"It's triple during the holidays. We're already getting in catalogs and we'll get packages like crazy. It's a lot more work. We'll have people working 10-12 hours a day, so the sooner they bring packages in, the better it is for us and them," he said.
As to if mailing out these packages for the holidays is worth the extra planning that is involved, Kalei Brooks, a spokeswoman for the Alaska National Guard in Anchorage, said absolutely.
"They love getting gifts at the holidays, especially when the gifts are from family and friends that really know them and their interests," she said.
Brooks said while any gift would likely be appreciated, giving a little thought to what is sent can go a long way toward making soldiers feel not as far from home.
"Sending food specific to this region such as dried fish can be a good reminder of home when they're half a world away," she said.
"Magazines, CDs, DVDs and other things they can watch or do in their off-time that has come out while they are gone, can keep them up to speed on what's current here, and make them feel closer," she added.
Brooks said even simple things can be good gifts to the soldiers, since they can in turn give them out as gifts to children and less fortunate people in the areas they are stationed.
"Pens, pads, post-it notes, these are things we sometimes take for granted, but they can go a long way," she said.
As to anyone who procrastinates and misses the Nov. 13 deadline, Rivera said there are still other last-minute options.
"There's express mail, but it will cost more," he said.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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