Over the past week, people have been expressing an outpouring of support for the United States Postal Service (USPS) by purchasing extra stamps and writing heartfelt thank-you notes to their letter carriers.
The show of gratitude comes not only as postal workers continue to deliver mail amid the coronavirus pandemic, but also as the already cash-strapped mail service faces a major financial hurdle. With a significant drop in first-class letters and promotional mailers being sent amid the coronavirus shutdowns, the COVID-19-related revenue loss could be so drastic it could threaten the very existence of the postal service.
In a press statement, Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan said, “We now estimate that the COVID-19 pandemic will increase the Postal Service’s net operating loss by more than $22 billion over the next eighteen months, and by over $54 billion over the longer term, threatening our ability to operate.”
Unlike other industries clobbered by the pandemic, though, the USPS may not receive any financial relief from the federal government. The Washington Post has reported that President Donald Trump threatened to veto the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or Cares Act, if the legislation contained any funds to bail the mail service out.
Now, in response, people are snapping up stamps as a way to help infuse much-needed revenue into the U.S. Postal Service’s budget.
Twitter user @sarahmaclean, for instance, suggests buying stamps and taking up letter writing during the quarantine.
Twitter user @saralise bought some stamps with Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, Cookie Monster and other members of the “Sesame Street” cast so that she could send her students surprise cards and teach them about the joy of receiving real mail.
Finding out #USPS was struggling & that they had Sesame Street stamps made this easy! My students are getting fun surprise cards delivered home this week and I hope it makes them feel special! We have to teach the next gen about the joys of real mail #21Learns #SaveThePostOffice pic.twitter.com/sKsNTrIbEw
— Miss Sara (@saralise) April 11, 2020
Twitter user @claudiamiles shows off the Marvin Gaye stamps she bought, doing her part to help save the post office so that she can continue to have the right to vote by mail.
I just bought a book of Marvin Gaye stamps on https://t.co/BJB94tn1cK because, among other things, I want to be able to vote by mail.
Let’s all buy stamps today and save the Post Office. #SaveUSPS #buystamps https://t.co/4q0PxvJRzo pic.twitter.com/u2LYMRasVR
— (((Claudia Miles ❄️))) (@claudiamiles) April 12, 2020
If you’re looking to snag some of your own stamps, the Postal Service has an impressive variety, including botanical stamps featuring plants such as mini-cymbidium orchid blooms, succulents and green hydrangeas.
In addition to buying extra stamps to try and give a boost to the Postal Service’s revenue, many people have also been offering thanks to their letter carriers who are deemed essential workers, delivering mail during COVID-19 pandemic.
Twitter user @KatiePhang posted a photo of a card her 5-year-old daughter drew to thank their local mail carrier.
— Katie S. Phang (@KatiePhang) April 13, 2020
The acts haven’t gone unnoticed by the USPS. The @USPS Twitter account has been posting videos that feature some of the notes it’s been receiving, saying: “From all of us to all of you, thank you.”
This recent video created by the U. S. Postal Service includes chalk drawings for postal workers, a thank you letter with hand sanitizer attached and sign that says “Thank You Mail Carriers.”
Feeling your overwhelming amount of support truly makes us feel proud. Each note and kind word makes a difference. From all of us to all of you, thank you. pic.twitter.com/NOyuZPyVeB
— U.S. Postal Service (@USPS) April 8, 2020
The United States Postal Service has faced financial turmoil for years, partly because of a steady decline in mail volume. But other factors are at play, too: In 2006, for instance, a law was passed that put immense and unprecedented financial pressure on the agency, requiring it to pay post-retirement health care costs 75 years in the future.
Many people are clearly still behind the mail service. In an unscientific Twitter poll involving 457 votes, Liz Ryan of @humanworkplace showed that people prioritize saving the U.S. Postal Service over the cruise industry.
If only one of these could be saved, which one should it be?
— Liz Ryan, CEO, Human Workplace (@humanworkplace) April 12, 2020
In the press statement addressing COVID-19 revenue losses, Brennan said the postal service provides an essential public service that binds the nation together and is part of the country’s critical infrastructure. Not only does it let you communicate with loved ones, but employees accept, process and transport important packages like medicine, benefit checks, absentee ballots, and more. The post office currently employs 630,000 people.
“As Americans are urged to stay home, the importance of the mail will only grow as people, including those in rural areas and senior citizens, will need access to vital communications, essential packages and other necessities,” Brennan said in the statement.
My own grandma, who doesn’t have an e-mail address, sends me a handwritten card every week. It’s a bright spot to find her card in my mailbox amid bills. This weekend, I stocked up on stamps for my return letters to grandma. I felt like these Walt Whitman ones were fitting to celebrate the art of writing.
Will you buy some stamps to help save the post office?