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380AEW Article

Delivering Christmas Gifts to Deployed Service Members

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Colton Elliott
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing

As families across the world finish up their holiday shopping and begin wrapping presents, some of those gifts will not make it underneath their Christmas trees.

Presents will be wrapped and placed inside a cardboard box and shipped off to a loved one with an Army/Air Force Post Office address.

Tech Sgt. Albert King, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Postmaster is in charge of all mail operations. Without his team, Christmas packages would not be delivered to roughly 3,800 thousand personnel at Al Dhafra Air Base.

“There's nothing better than watching someone receive a package, especially when they are not expecting it,” said King. “When you see their face light up as you deliver it, it’s the best feeling knowing that my team played a part in making them smile.”

During the first few weeks of December, the 380th Military Postal Operations received more than 50,000 pounds of mail, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

“We could not do this if it weren't for a team effort,” said King. “Some members came here with little to-no-postal experience and hopped right in to help us get the job done.”

Over the past few months, the 380th Expeditionary Communications Squadron, Post Office has seen their volunteer numbers increase. In July 2017, there were less than 100 personnel who volunteered to sort packages. Today, there are more than 700 volunteers on record.

One volunteer, Airman 1st Class Daniel Ray, 380th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, force protection, has dedicated more than 75 hours serving at the post office during the busy holiday rush.

“Every day here feels like Christmas,” said Ray. “I enjoy serving others and volunteering at the post office allows me to feel like I’m making a difference.”

While the Military Postal Service will be doing its job to ensure postal operations run as smooth as possible, there are a few facts that service members, family members and friends should know when mailing items.

“This is the holiday season, and there could be a possibility of delays based inclement weather,” said King. “If the airlines shut down, there’s no mail being delivered, and there will be a backlog.”

When it comes to shipping items to an Army/Air Post Office, family members and services members need to understand the general mail restrictions for each APO/FPO zip code.

For UAE, aerosol cans, firearms, flammable materials, pork or pork by-products, poisons, alcohol and liquor, ammunition, drug paraphernalia and anything else covered in General Order Number 1 are prohibited from being shipped either to or from an APO/FPO address according to U.S. Central Command regulation 25-103.

For those who have shipped items or planning on shipping items, expect at least three weeks for your package to arrive. Priority mail usually takes about two weeks to be delivered, and standard mail takes at least three to four weeks.

Following these mail requirements should make a happy holiday season for all.

Volunteers from the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, work together sorting incoming packages at the post office Dec. 12, 2017. The daily parcel inbound average for the post office is 716. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Colton Elliott)