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WARRENDALE, Pa. (KDKA) — A half-million packages will flow through the region’s package sorting and distribution center between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

While the number of letters the USPS handles is declining, the number of packages is on the rise.

“Amazon, FedEx, UPS, all those companies we deliver for,” postal service spokesman Tad Kelley said.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

High-tech scanners read barcodes that send the packages off on conveyor belts to their destinations. The effectiveness of the system starts with how accurately you address the package in the first place. The full destination address is needed, including the zip code and a return address.

Kelley says the postal service makes these recommendations:

  • Write, type or print complete address and return addresses.
  • Always include apartment numbers and street designations (for example — W. Main).
  • Select a strong, sturdy box. Packaging materials are sold in most post office lobbies.
  • Cushion the contents of your package on all sides with bubble wrap or newspaper.
  • Remove batteries from toys and wrap separately in the box.
  • Place an extra return address within the box.
  • Use strong packing tape – pressure sensitive and reinforced.
  • Never use string or twine.
  • Don’t know the ZIP? Never guess, use the ZIP Code locator.
  • Do NOT reuse mailing boxes. They weaken in the shipping process.
  • Select a box that is strong enough to protect the contents. Priority Mail and Priority Express boxes are free at the local post office.
  • Leave space for cushioning inside.
  • Stuff glass and fragile, hollow items, like vases, with newspaper or packing material to avoid damage. When mailing framed photographs, take the glass out of the frame and wrap it separately.


One point Kelley emphasizes is putting the destination address and return address on a card and sealing it inside the box.

“If something happens to the outside of the box, we know where it’s going,” Kelley said.

Here are the USPS deadlines to get your package there by Christmas:


DEC. 18 – APO/FPO/DPO Priority Mail Express


DEC. 14 – USPS Retail Ground
DEC. 20 – First-Class Mail
DEC. 20 – Priority Mail
DEC. 22 – Priority Mail Express  (*Priority Mail Express commitments based on drop-off times.)

Kelley says that Priority Mail Express will cost you more, but…

“We do deliver that product on Christmas Day,” Kelley said.

In fact in some instances, the service can be used to send a package on Dec. 24 for Christmas Day delivery.

And if the government does shut down as threatened next Friday, Kelley says the USPS will be unaffected.

“We continue to work,” Kelley said.

The last chances for Christmas Day delivery for the other carriers means getting your package to UPS by next Friday and FedEx by Saturday the 22nd.