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Holiday Shoppers Crowd Post Office on Busiest Mail Day

By Ben Fractenberg | December 20, 2011 5:13pm

MIDTOWN — Last-minute Santas rushed to the James A. Farley Post Office in Midtown Tuesday afternoon in hopes of getting their gifts out in time for Christmas.

"The building is so huge, I thought there wouldn’t be this many people," said Sitri Sormunen, 22, who headed to the Eighth Avenue and 34th Street post office to send her gifts to a family in Oregon she lived with for a year as part of exchange program.

Sormunen's package consisted of candy and chocolate from her homeland of Finland and a bit more of a functional gift — a Finnish dishrag.

"You can clean them in the washer," she said.

Ekene Daniel, 25, who was mailing a candle to her sister in England, said she was gripped with fear that she would face long lines upon arrival. "I had a moment of panic," she said, but added, ""I was expecting it to be worse."

Dec. 20 is typically the busiest mailing day for cards and letters going through the United States Postal Service, with more than 600 million last-minute packages flooding the system at the peak of a Christmas rush, according to the USPS.

One employee at Manhattan's main postal branch said she helped mail about 250 boxes in a two-hour period as part of the post office's Operation Santa. The program sends presents to underprivileged chidren.

Ruben Ramirez, 37, was wrapping a doll for an 8-year-old girl who sent a letter addressed to Santa.

"She said she has never gotten a present before," he said, "We're so fortunate; most of my friends, if we want something we can just go out and buy it."

Another Santa, Andy, 53, lugged several boxes of gifts for four families into the post office Tuesday afternoon.

Andy, who lives in New Jersey and declined to give his last name, said he was moved by letters from each of the intended recipients.

"I started reading the letters and I couldn't turn them away," he said.

But extreme procrastinators still have some time to send out gifts.

The post office offers a money-back guarantee for items to be delivered by Christmas Day for express mail accepted by Dec. 22, according to their website.