In the wake of the tragic school shootings in Newtown, Conn., one place has become headquarters for the love and outpouring of condolences headed to that quaint New England town from around the world: the Newtown, Conn., post office.
Workers there have been taking phone calls all day today (Dec. 17) answering questions from people all over the U.S. who want to send their thoughts and prayers in the form of letters, cards, care packages and drawings from their children. Without specific names and addresses to mail to, many were calling to find out where to send those letters.
In response, the U.S. Post Office has set up a post-office box dedicated to just that need, said Maureen Marion, manager of corporate communications for northeast area for the USPS.
Marion said she expects the deluge of mail to begin arriving later today and to continue for the foreseeable future.
“The phone has been ringing nonstop with people calling to ask how they can send things,” Marion told BusinessNewsDaily, adding that a "cascade of written materials" is expected.
To help the small post office deal with the crush of mail, the USPS has set up the following mailing address for all mail and packages intended for the families of shooting victims, first responders and Newtown residents affected by the shooting tragedy:
PO Box 3700, Newtown, CT, 06470
Marion said the dedicated post-office box will help Newtown’s post-office staff handle the enormous amount of mail they are expecting.
From there, the USPS will work with local community groups to help distribute the mail.
“We’re in the beginning stages of getting it to the right people,” Marion said. They will also make sure that the mail is monitored to ensure families only receive what is appropriate and aren’t exposed to anything “a family member doesn’t need to see,” Marion said.
“We’ll be working with town leaders to establish a venue to handle everything accordingly,” she said. “Our job is to be the funnel.”
Mail sent directly to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where the shootings took place, will be delivered directly to the school, Marion said.
‘Love through the mail’
Marion said this is not the first time in her job that she has seen a big influx of mail as a result of a tragedy.
“Even in very recent history, we’ve seen an enormous outpouring of support for Hurricane Sandy,” she said. “Our communities are very generous in this part of the country. They are very kind and focused on helping families.”
Still, last week’s terrible shootings, which have triggered an outpouring of emotions from people around the world, may bring in even more mail.
“It’s my expectation that we are going to see an enormous amount of love coming through the mail,” Marion said.
She expects there will be letters from children and schools, and encourages people to send their wishes via the mail so they can be saved and reread later.
“Because they are written, families and first responders will be able to enjoy them and reread them over and over in a time and place that’s good for them. That’s the beauty of our job. We are here to deliver that love," Marion said.
Busiest time of year
This is already the busiest time of the year for the USPS and the extra mail will be a challenge for postal workers. Marion said they are up for the challenge, however.
“This is our peak season to begin with,” Marion said. “We’re already at capacity.”
She said the USPS will send extra workers to Newtown’s post office if necessary.
“We’re prepared to give them whatever they need,” she said. “This is an exceptional moment in time and we are prepared to do exceptional things.”