The old saying goes that "Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the postmen from their appointed rounds." But at the Lehigh Post Office, the words don't hold true, not unless there is a major hurricane.
That person who oversees the post office in Lehigh is the new postmaster, Jackie Avery, who has lived in Lehigh all of her life.
She was recently promoted as Lehigh's new postmaster and she says she loves the work and hopes to stay as postmaster for the rest of her working life.
Having worked at the Lehigh Post Office and was there when the new building was constructed about a dozen years ago, she has returned from Immokalee where she was the postmaster there.
"There was an opportunity that arose and I decided I wanted to come back. She's been at the new job since Nov. 3 and replaces Johnson D'Souza.
Avery is a busy woman, keeping up reports and helping to make sure the mail gets out on time. But she is also a friendly woman with a warm smile and employees seem happy that "one of their own" has been named postmaster.
Sometimes postmasters are brought from other areas of the country, so when a local postal employee who has come up through the ranks is chosen, it makes for a happier work force.
"Oh yeah, I was born in Lehigh; been here all my life. I'm 52 years old and just having the opportunity to work again in my hometown is a great experience," she said with a big smile.
She oversees some 98 employees, including inside staffers who sort the mail and those on the front desk and the many letter carriers who deliver mail throughout Lehigh.
This is one of the U.S. Postal Service's busiest seasons and sometimes there are long lines in the front lobby.
"We have great people working at the counter and they are there to serve and give advice about what is being mailed this Christmas season. Sometimes, the lines build up this time of the year because so many people are mailing things back up north to relatives and friends.
"But there is another way to make the job of visiting the post office easy and that is using our automated postal machine as you come into the front entrance. It's been here for a while, but some people are not sure they know how to use it," she said.
Ken Finley of Lehigh was sending a package up north and he said he uses the automated machine often, to buy stamps and to affix his postage on packages.
"It has a scale and the touch screen is easy to use," he said.
Avery said the Lehigh Post Office makes deliveries to around 34,809 homes and businesses. Lehigh has a population, according to the last census of around 87,000 people.
Avery said they server 15 city routes and 33 rural routes in the Lehigh community.
The post office is located at 1201 Business Way. Some years ago it was located in a building on Homestead Rd. that is vacant today.
Avery said letter carriers from the Lehigh facility conduct toy drives for food for Lehigh Acres a couple of times a year.
The post offices offers all the same services found in larger post offices in Fort Myers. You can purchase special Priority Mail boxes. You can buy first day covers of new stamps and they carry an array of the latest stamps, not only for mailing, but for stamp collectors.
She is married to John Avery and they have two sons; one is 27 and lives in Alabama and the other is 16 and attends school here.
The post office is always open 24/7 for those with postal boxes. The main lobby of the post office is closed after business hours, but the automated machine at the entrance may be used at any time to buy stamps and to send packages and letters.
Avery works with three supervisors who help her oversee the working at the post office. They include Tom Owens, Lisa Garlow and June Kennedy.
Avery wanted to remind everyone in Lehigh of their Letter Carriers Toys for Tots Drive on Saturday, December 1.
The annual toy drive is conducted throughout all the post offices in the area.
The post office comes under the Suncoast District and Nancy Rettinhouse, the district manager, says that letter carriers collect more toys on the one day drive than all of the other Toys for Tots partnering businesses combined. She said that last year, letter carriers in the district collected more than a million toys.
"We want to be successful again this year. I am confident that with the help of Suncoast employees, our letter carriers will collect a record number of toys to put smiles on the faces of countless children who depend on Toys for Tots to provide them with a joyous holiday," Rettinhouse said.
Postal patrons may leave boxed toys at their mailbox or they may bring them into the post office. Lehigh Community Services distributes toys to families who are unable to purchase toys at Christmas.
Postmaster Jackie Avery said she wanted to remind everyone in the service area of Lehigh to get their mail to the post office as soon as possible. There are deadlines to meet with packages and mail so the post office can get your items delivered in time for the holiday.