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Post Offices Brace for Avalanche -- of Mail

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RALEIGH — It's a holiday rush of adifferent sort at the post office.

Postal officials project that today will be the busiest of the holidaymailing season.

From Christmas cards to Christmas presents the mail must go through.Later today, theU.S. Postal Service will announce its initiatives to make sure shipmentsarrive in time for Christmas.

But few post offices have it busier thanthose with names or words associated with the season. So employees inBethlehem, Pennsylvania and Bethlehem, New Hampshire are put to the testat this time of year.

A New Hampshire clerk says the post officecancels about 40,000 pieces of mail in December -- which is a mere 38,000more than usual. The mail is from people who want their season's greetingsstamped with the town's special cancellation. It's a green stamp with thetown's name and a pine-bordered village lit by a star.

The bulk of the mail comes from New England, though some comes in fromall over the world. Some people hand deliver their mail, coming from as far away as New Jerseyand Canada to get the stamp.

And, given the glut of mail, everyone is advised to make sure to payand mail bills early so they don't get caught by the holiday crush.

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