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Package push has post office packed

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The days are dwindling for mail to arrive on time for Christmas.

Monday marks the U.S. Postal Service’s busiest day for customers to send out holiday cards and packages. The post office expects to process more than 600 million pieces of mail in 24 hours.

An employee at the Kings Road Post Office said every department there was fully staffed Monday to handle the extra flow of people coming through to drop off gifts.

With less than two weeks to spare before Christmas, everybody is rushing to the post office to get their gifts sent out.

“The panic has begun, yes, definitely,” post office customer Gail Lee said. “I’ve been thinking this for a week or two, and I’ve been thinking, 'You need to have this done,' and today it was like, 'It better be today.'”

Customer Keith Stone made the post office his office for the day.

“I’m old-fashioned. I like to mail off cards, even though everybody has text messaging and email, but I like to go old-fashioned,” Stone said.

Stone filled out a couple of dozen holiday cards for family and friends before shipping them off.

“It’s been congested. The line has been all the way to the door,” Stone said. “But I’m glad to almost be finished and get into the line before it gets too heavy.”

The crowds came in spurts throughout the day were greeted by Brenda White at the door.

“Anything we can do to help the customers -- filling out forms or providing information about the different classes of mail that’s best suited for their mail to be shipped,” said White, a consumer affairs clerk with the USPS.

White is usually found behind the scenes, but because of the hundreds of people expected to drop by, she helped up front.

“The managers of the downtown facility, they have the sale and service associates well-staffed for the customers as they come in, so the lines can dwindle down as fast as they can,” White said.

The USPS will deliver 15.5 billion cards, letters, flats and packages during the holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. The service will process 612 million pieces of mail on Dec. 14 alone. And USPS will increase air cargo lift of mail by almost 29 percent compared to non-peak periods.

“I don’t want to be late, you know,” Stone said. “My thing is the early bird gets the worm, and if I was late, they wouldn’t get it on time.”

This Saturday is the last day USPS can guarantee mail will be delivered by Dec. 25 through first class mail nationwide. After that customers will be paying extra to get those gifts expedited and delivered for Christmas.