Post Office handles holiday influx with volunteers

Airmen handle parcels that arrive in need of repackaging at the Northside Post Office, Ramstein Air Base, Dec. 6. Volunteer support during the holidays helps military postal clerks give more immediate attention to mail requiring quality control. Photo by Airman 1st Class John R. Wright

Airmen from the 786th Force Support Squadron put in extra hours and effort, and receive help from volunteers to support the holiday influx of mail at Ramstein Air Base post offices.

Some of the ways Post Office personnel are helping during the holidays is by increasing weekday shifts from nine to ten hours, keeping customer service open an extra hour Monday through Friday, and opening the Northside Post Office for additional hours on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We do get a lot of recognition during this time of the year,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Lakisha Taylor, 786th FSS postal flight superintendent. “We do something a little extra that we’re not required to do to help the customers out.”

The extra time military postal clerks spend at work makes shipping and receiving parcels faster and more convenient for customers during the busiest time of year for mailing operations.

An electronic email notification system, rolled out August 2019, also streamlined the process of receiving and getting packages to patrons more quickly.

“Instead of writing yellow slips like we used to, we now scan everything in electronically,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Thomas A. Bonelli, 786th FSS postal service center NCO in charge. “Now, we’re surpassing USPS (processing) standards by about 16 hours.”

Additionally, the system saves the Air Force money as the post office no longer spends thousands of dollars per year on labels that were used prior to the email notification scanning process, Bonelli said.

Lower processing times are also the result of using new equipment such as the stationary conveyor belt to unload mail trucks. In the past, military postal workers had to set up multiple roll-out conveyor belts that were more cumbersome and labor-intensive.

“It actually stretches all the way into the truck, so an Airman doesn’t have to pull a belt into the truck on a ramp,” Bonelli said. “It’s also lower to the ground, so Airmen don’t have to heave these heavy packages up onto the belt.”

Even with extra work hours and useful tools, the majority of help during the holiday season comes from the Holiday Volunteer Program, which supports Ramstein Northside and Southside post offices and Kapaun Air Station Post Office, during the high volume times of the day.

“Without it during this time of the year, we would suffer,” Taylor said. “I don’t even know if we could really get our mission done effectively.”

Volunteers start arriving as early as 6:15 a.m. to help unload the mail truck, among various other duties.

They are a welcome sight to Post Office personnel because their help takes a burden off of workers, allows prioritization of other important duties, and streamlines work that must be done before parcels can be given to the customer, Bonelli said.

With the help of volunteers, modernized equipment and innovative new processes, military postal clerks are able to sort mail faster, reduce misplaced items, and increase quality practices.

“I think our team is awesome and works really hard every day to accomplish the amount of work we do here,” Taylor said. “I know sometimes customers don’t see the inner workings of our operation, and only notice that their box may be a little crushed, not realizing that it may have arrived to us in that condition. Our Airmen dig deep to find an inner strength to put in the long hours and keep providing our customers with the best service possible.”

Volunteers are still needed at the Northside and Southside post offices on Ramstein AB and the Kapaun Post Office on Kapaun Air Station. To sign up for specified times at the Northside Post Office follow the link:, or contact Staff Sgt. Melem or Airman 1st Class Rainey at DSN 480-7857 or commercial 06371-47-7857.

To volunteer at the Southside Post Office Mondays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 4 – 6 p.m., contact Senior Airman Gosselin or Airman Gardner at DSN 480-2490 or commercial 06371-47-2490.

To volunteer at the Kapaun Post Office Mondays through Fridays from 3 – 5 p.m., contact Tech. Sgt. Ware or Airman 1st Class Robles-Rodriguez at DSN 489-7866 or commercial 06315-36-7866.