PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — While you’re sleeping, it’s anything but a “Silent Night” at the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) processing plant in Providence.
The building is the size of eight football fields, and it’s the hub for mail coming in and out of Rhode Island, Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod.
Acting Plant Manager Martha St. Germaine tells 12 News that come December, it’s go time.
“There will be lots of red and green going through there,” she said. “It’s even more exciting this year because last year was tough, it was a tough year for us, but we have so much in play this year in order to make sure we’re successful.”
St. Germaine said on a standard week, the facility will process approximately 600,000 packages. Come December, she said they will process roughly 950,000 packages at their peak.
USPS employees utilize automated parcel sorting machines to get packages where they need to go. The worker will load a package onto a conveyer belt where it is scanned by a camera then sorted into bins.
The machine will be running at capacity in the coming days, churning through 10,000 packages an hour, according to St. Germaine.
And it’s not just hundreds of thousands of packages that will be coming through the facility this holiday season.
With all those holiday cards and letters to Santa, St. Germaine said the usual 2.2 million letters per day will likely jump to 3.5 million.
Those letters, according to St. Germaine, run through a machine known as the “purple monster” before they’re sorted and sent back out to their final destinations.
The facility employs 950 people, but St. Germaine emphasized that it’s just one stop along your mail’s journey to it’s recipient.
When asked how many people it takes to get packages and letters where they need to go, St. Germaine said hundreds.
“In some way shape or form,” she said. “Between drivers, air mail, processing, handling … absolutely.”
That’s why she said USPS is still hiring, adding that they’re not immune to the staffing shortages plaguing other industries.
But St. Germaine said despite that, they’re prepared for the holiday season because they started hiring for it back in July.
“This year, we’re in better shape,” she said. “I have more people in the building no than I did at peak last year.”
St. Germaine said the last year’s spike in mail volume was “astronomical,” and this year, she expects it to meet or exceed it.
Still, she’s confident that people will get their packages on time.
“We’re still going to have a crunch, but we’re much better prepared to manage it now,” she said. “We can keep the mail flowing this year.”