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Postmaster says to mail early

The holiday shopping rush which traditionally follows Thanksgiving also means a big rush and long lines at the post office.

Part of this time of year also means sending gifts, letters and packages overseas, especially to those serving in the military.

For sending packages overseas, Postmaster Jerrell Moten says the deadline for any standard mail sent to foreign countries is Dec. 10.

“We say to give at least two weeks to ensure it will get to its destination by the 25th,” Moten said, “but priority mail can be delivered in about one week.”

With the 18th and 25th being Sundays though, Moten said anyone wishing to use priority mail should still try to send everything by the Dec. 16.

As for restrictions on what can go to Iraq or Afghanistan, Moten said there are no differences between those countries and any other foreign nation the U. S. Postal Service ships to.

Moten also said however, “we certainly don’t encourage anything that could rot, corrode or explode while in route.”

Food, clothing items and radios are the most common items sent overseas leading up to Christmas, Moten said.

For international shipping, the USPS recommends addressing items using all uppercase, printed or typed letters.

Addresses should be in English.

The last line of the address should be nothing but the name of the destination country.

Closer to home, the busiest times at post offices are generally the week after Thanksgiving and the last full week before Christmas. Dec. 3 and Dec. 17 are expected to be the most crowded dates according to Moten.

“If possible, try to avoid those two weekends to avoid the biggest lines and waits.” Moten said.

“We will have additional people and be staffed to help people as much as possible.”

Moten also encourages people to use the USPS online shipping service which allows users to pay for postage, print labels, schedule pickups, track shipments, and more over the Internet.

Suffolk’s Main Street post office also includes an Automated Postal Center in its lobby.

The center is available 24/7 and is similar to an ATM or airport kiosk.