Last-minute gifts hit the road

Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Elaine Harrison of Warren waits in line Thursday to mail her Christmas package at the downtown Warren Post Office on High Street. She said it was her first time mailing a holiday package. Thursday was the last day to send first-class and priority mail through the U.S. Postal Service to get guaranteed delivery for Christmas Day.

WARREN — There was a steady line Thursday at the downtown post office on High Street, as people rushed to ship last-minute Christmas gifts to their loved ones.

Elaine Harrison of Warren said she was shipping a package for the first time in her life. She said her daughter and granddaughter were supposed to come home from Atlanta for the holidays, but had to cancel. Harrison just found out they weren’t coming and was sending a last-minute gift.

She said she wasn’t sure if the package would arrive by Christmas Day, but she wasn’t too worried about it. “If it do, it do; if it don’t, it don’t,” said Harrison, adding that her granddaughter’s birthday is in January, so the package could be a birthday gift if it arrived late.

In the two weeks leading up to Christmas (Dec. 10-23), the U.S. Postal Service predicted it would deliver nearly 400 million packages, according to a press release. Overall, the USPS anticipates delivery of nearly 15 billion pieces of mail and more than 900 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

Harrison said she was surprised there was a wait at the post office. Others, however, were happy with the relatively quick service.

“It’s not as busy as I thought it would be,” said Debbie Ritter of Warren.

Ritter and her husband moved here from Florida. She said it was the first year she would not be able to be with the rest of her family for the holidays.

Ritter paid extra postage to overnight four cards to make sure they would arrive by Christmas. “This is what you do when you run out of time,” she said.

According to the USPS website, the cutoff date to send packages with a guarantee to arrive by Christmas was Thursday for first class and priority mail. Priority Express Mail can be sent nationally until Saturday and still arrive by Christmas, it was noted. For services like USPS Retail Ground, packages had to be sent by Dec. 14 to be guaranteed to arrive on time.

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