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Ports in the storm

Kids turned to USPS, mail for comfort this year

Julius Westfall, 2, wears the Halloween costume he received from his pal, Philadelphia Letter Carrier Jody Forte.

“Everything around us just changed but the mailman came every day.”

Those words could describe the reality of most anyone in 2020, but Thea Westfall was explaining the comfort and joy her 2-year-old son, Julius, felt at the daily arrival of the Philadelphia family’s letter carrier, Jody Forte.

The toddler would array his toy mail trucks on the windowsill in time for Forte’s routine stop, a preoccupation Thea and her husband were grateful for as they were otherwise engaged in work-from-home matters.

Forte got a kick out of Julius, too, and had a little surprise in store for him on Halloween: a child-size letter carrier costume that Forte’s own sons once wore.

“He’s really excited about it,” Thea said.

That USPS dependability also made an impression on 11-year-old Emerson Weber. The avid letter writer from Sioux Falls, SD, showed her gratitude by penning a thank-you note to her letter carrier, Doug Scott.

Scott was so moved by the gesture that he shared it with his customer services supervisor, beginning a chain of sharing that ended with Emerson publishing a children’s book that salutes postal employees and other essential workers.

2020 was a year of teachable moments, many of them virtual.

Postal Service employees teamed up with a school in Rockledge, FL, to provide first-graders with a virtual tutorial on the proper way to address a letter, as well as a behind-the-scenes look into the Post Office.

The coronavirus pandemic also brought renewed interest in pen pals and other letter-writing activities for a Boston-area family, while in nearby Connecticut, the lesson was of the heart, not the head, when Ken Rodin, a Bristol letter carrier, “delivered” a drawing from 4-year-old Maci Hopkins to her recently deceased dog, Kendal, in heaven.

Rodin made sure Maci received a response, too.

“I always try to cheer people up … doing this for Maci helped everyone feel better,” Rodin said.

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