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Employees stay upbeat in face of pandemic

Mail Handler Joseph Kittles performs his duties last week at the Northern Virginia Processing and Distribution Center.

As the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic evolves — disrupting daily life from coast to coast — Postal Service employees are continuing to proudly serve their communities, reinforcing the fact that USPS is part of America’s critical infrastructure.

“People are depending on us,” said Joseph Kittles, a mail handler at the Northern Virginia Processing and Distribution Center in Merrifield.

Kittles knows that the pandemic means customers are relying on the Postal Service more than ever to deliver medicine and supplies, as well as cards and letters ­— which help isolated people stay connected, especially those who don’t use social media.

He understands that he and his colleagues are providing an essential public service, just like law enforcement officers, emergency responders and health care providers.

“It’s a blessing when you can come home and see your mail,” Kittles said. “I want that for myself and for everyone else.”

Kelly Briscoe, a letter carrier in Lexington, KY, knows that customers not only appreciate getting their mail, they appreciate seeing the men and women who deliver it, too.

“It’s great that I’m able to serve the public at a time like this,” Briscoe said. “It’s reassuring for customers when they see us out there in their neighborhoods. It’s a sign of normalcy.”

With many older customers on his route having to be especially cautious about leaving their homes during the pandemic, “I might be the only person they see,” Briscoe said. “They’re glad I’m there, and I have a sense of pride knowing I’m keeping an eye on them.”

In Edgewater, FL, a customer on Rural Carrier Angel Bodien’s route recently showed that mail delivery is reassuring for younger customers, too. The man brought his two children, 7 and 9 years old, outside when Bodien was at their mailbox.

“He told them, ‘Meet the mail lady,’” she recalled. “‘As long as the mail is running, everything will be fine. The world is going to be OK.’”

“It really does make you feel good when you’re out there working and people appreciate what you’re doing,” Bodien said.

Rachel Garner, a rural carrier in Abbeville, SC, also felt appreciated recently by a family on her route, without even seeing them.

They left Garner a small care package of rubber gloves, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes in their mailbox along with a handwritten note: “Please be safe.”

It’s the type of gesture that makes Garner optimistic about the future.

“The Postal Service has gotten through challenges before,” she said. “I’m confident we’ll get through this.”

USPS employees are also finding ways to show their appreciation for others.

Andy Derrick, a letter carrier in Little Rock, AR, wanted to do something special for the employees of a favorite restaurant, Doe’s Eat Place, as they faced a pandemic shutdown.

Last week, after his final lunch there for the foreseeable future, Derrick left a $2,200 tip — $100 for each of the restaurant’s 22 employees.

“It’s my community. I deliver to them. I know all of them,” he told the local ABC station. “I’m just trying to support them because they support me.”

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