By Colleen Flaherty

Killeen Daily Herald

Post offices across the country geared up Monday for their busiest day of the year, and local outfits were no exception.

The Copper Mountain Station on W.S. Young Drive called in an extra worker to help patrons use its automated postal center. As in recent days, the post office converted an administrative office into a mail key and stamp-only service line. Three to four workers manned the counter at all times.

Efficiency was the idea, supervisor Melvin Johnson said.

"Our goal is to get everyone in and out in five minutes," he said.

Lines that at times stretched out the door challenged that goal, but constant movement kept most patrons calm.

Kelly Hussey, 23, and her husband, Sgt. Shawn Hussey, Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, appeared a bit dismayed at the length of the line during the lunch hour, but used the time to package and address their presents in Priority Mail boxes.

"These are his family's," Kelly said, laughing. "Mine already got their presents."

Being deployed during the holidays has made Shawn more diligent about shopping deadlines in the past, he said, adding that he'd made some final purchases over the weekend.

Traditionally, the Monday before Christmas is a busy shipping day, as people use the weekend to cross last items or names off their gift lists.

Monday also marked the U.S. Postal Service's recommended deadline for sending greeting cards and holiday letters to arrive by Christmas through first-class mail.

The service expected more than 800 million pieces of mail to enter its system Monday, a

40 percent increase in average daily volume.

Some patrons were aware of the day's significance, while others had no idea what they were walking into.

Killeen resident Marilyn Piccolotti, 55, visited the post office to send extra clothing to her husband in Afghanistan, after his laundry was lost. She didn't know the day would be so busy and was lucky to arrive during a lull, she said.

Darlene Ellis, 52, of Harker Heights was running errands in Killeen and hoped to quickly mail a gift to her grandson in South Carolina. Seeing the line, she said she'd try the Harker Heights post office on Knights Way instead.

But the scene there was the same Monday.

Cedar Falls, Iowa, resident Robert Fuller, 61, was visiting family in the area, he said, and wanted to mail a handful of Christmas cards. Taking one look at the Harker Heights line, he said he'd check back later.

But, he said, "I figured it was going to be busy. I wasn't surprised."

Procrasti-Santas who either missed the first-class deadline or steered clear of post offices Monday still have a few options, U.S. Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said.

"If customers get their cards and packages to us by (today), we'll get them delivered by Christmas," he said.

Those shipping their packages today are advised to use Priority Mail or Express Mail.

Wednesday is the Express Mail deadline for Christmas delivery.

Contact Colleen Flaherty at or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.

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