SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Christmas is less than one week away.

Less. Than. One. Week. Away.

Many are preparing to wind down and spend time with friends and family, but for some, Christmas brings stress especially when it comes to sending and receiving packages through delivery. If you are still waiting to mail gifts for Christmas, the United States Postal Service may be your best option.

Sylacauga Postmaster Candy Stettler told SylacaugaNews.com there is still time for your packages ship with delivery guaranteed before Christmas Day, but do not wait too long. For customers basic shipping Monday was the last day for guaranteed delivery. Thursday, Dec. 22 will be the last day for customers to use USPS’ fastest shipping option, Priority Express, for Christmas delivery.

This is the busiest time of the year and Stettler said she is not planning on things slowing down until Christmas is over.

“It’s going to be pretty hectic,” said Stettler. “But we’ve done a lot to prepare because we knew it would be like this.”

Although the Sylacauga Postal Service was prepared, it might have under estimated the amount of packages that would come through its office.

USPS expected a 45% increase in incoming and outgoing packages for the 2016 holidays compared to 2015. But the Sylacauga Post office has seen a larger increase of packages coming through the facility.

Sorted packages are ready to be sorted and delivered

“On a normal day our carriers have 15-20 packages to deliver,” stated Stettler. ” During Christmas they’re having an average of around 100 per day.”

The reason for the increase is Amazon packages. Stettler told SylacaugaNews.com her post office now does same-day delivery on almost all Amazon packages that was once done by competitors like Fed-Ex and UPS.

With such a large increase in shipping this holiday season, USPS employees are working around the clock, but you will not hear any complaining.

“This year has been pretty hectic, but there’s no stress,” said City Carrier Kim Buttrill. She has been a city carrier for 20 years. “It’s our job, and we all love it.” Buttrill went on to say that she plans on working 12 hour days through Christmas but she knows that it is just part of her job.

The process of delivering shipments goes far and beyond the every day routine. So what is the Sylacauga Post Office doing to make keep up?

During the holidays many workers arrive at 5:00 a.m. The clerks arrive to a fully loaded stockroom that is filled with overnight deliveries. They sort and scan packages and get everything prepared for the mail carriers. Once the carriers arrive the mail cars are loaded down and prepared for delivery.

Rural Carrier Steve Sawyer loads his mail car

But just like everything else during the holiday season, delivery and routes change too.

Stettler said she has to call in substitute carriers…a lot of them.

On a normal day Sylacauga, has 17 drivers for 17 routes that get visited once per day. During Christmas there are as many as 27 drivers on any given day and some routes will get visited up to three times per day to ensure people will get their shipments on time. Workers are even coming in on Sundays to avoid falling behind.

The Sylacauga Post Office has also acquired a new van to haul and deliver bigger and heavier packages that will take up too much room in the normal mail cars.

The new USPS van started the day with less than 60 miles driven

Although the post office is well prepared with more workers, new cars, and extended work hours, there are still problems that are out of the hands of the local post office. Stettler asked that people remain patient and bear with the post office and its mail carriers during this season because she knows her staff is giving it their best. “I’m proud of my people.” she said. “They go the extra mile to make sure the job gets done, and they take it very serious.”

According to Stettler, SPO is doing everything it can to get all Christmas shipments delivered and she said she tries to do everything she can do to help customers have a a great Christmas experience.

Jeremy Law for SylacaugaNews.com | © 2016, SylacaugaNews.com/Marble City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.