As an added customer convenience, some post offices in the Suncoast District are offering extended hours.
The district includes post offices with the first three digits of the ZIP code beginning with 321, 327, 328, 329, 335, 336, 337, 338, 339, 341, 342, 346, 347.
The Lehigh Acres post office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. On Dec. 7 and 14, it will be open until 2 p.m.
The Postal Service Web site, www.usps.com, is open 24/7, offering the ultimate customer convenience. Customers can mail packages using debit or credit cards and their packages will be picked up by their letter carrier free of charge.
Customers using the Postal Store on: www.usps.com can purchase stamps, get holiday shipping information and holiday supplies. Nearly everything done at the Post Office can be done online.
The following helpful pointers will relieve holiday shipping hassles and get those gifts under the tree in time for St. Nick's arrival:
- Confirm addresses. Print addresses clearly in all capital letters and be sure to include all address elements - apartment numbers, suite numbers and directional information for streets. For example: 123 S. MAIN ST. or 12456 N. ELM ST. Include both "to" and "from" information on packages - and only on one side. Never guess a ZIP code. Visit: usps.com to find all ZIP codes.
- Use a sturdy box. Select a box that is strong enough to protect the contents. Leave space for cushioning inside. Do not reuse mailing boxes - they weaken in the shipping process. Customers can purchase ReadyPost boxes at a local post office or at the Postal Store on: usps.com. Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes are free.
- Pack delicately. Cushion contents with shredded or rolled newspaper, bubble wrap or foam peanuts. Plain air-popped popcorn is also good for cushioning - it's inexpensive and environmentally friendly. Pack contents tightly to avoid shifting during transit. Always use tape designed for shipping, such as pressure-sensitive tape, nylon-reinforced craft paper tape or glass-reinforced pressure-sensitive tape. Do not use wrapping paper, string, masking tape, duct tape or cellophane tape.
- Remove batteries and fragile items. Be sure to remove batteries from toys. Wrap and place them next to the toys in the mailing box. Customers should include the new batteries in the manufacturer's packaging. And stuff glass and fragile, hollow items, like vases, with newspaper or packing material to avoid damage. When mailing framed photographs, take the glass out of the frame and wrap it separately.
- Mark your calendars. And last up, but certainly not least are the all-important mailing and shipping deadlines. Be sure to take note of the following mail-by dates to have your package arrive in time for the holidays:
- Dec. 2: Priority Mail International
- Dec. 10: APO/FPO Military Priority Mail and First-Class Mail
- Dec. 10: Priority Mail Express International
- Dec. 14: Standard Post
- Dec. 16: Global Express Guaranteed
- Dec. 17: Priority Mail Express Military Service
- Dec. 20: First-Class Mail
- Dec. 21: Priority Mail
- Dec. 23: Priority Mail Express
The dates listed above are the earliest deadlines for international and military mail. For a complete list of shipping deadlines, visit: usps.com/shippingdates/.
Kathleen Swanson is a spokeswoman for U.S. Postal Service.