Families across R.I. still waiting for holiday orders as USPS experiences delays

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WLNE) – Days after Christmas, families across Rhode Island say they are still waiting for gifts and Christmas cards in the mail.

The United States Postal Service says it’s experiencing “unprecedented volume increases and limited employee availability due to COVID-19” at a time where online shopping for the holidays sky-rocketed.

For Megan Reilly, a North Kingstown mom, Christmas was a bit chaotic this year.

“I did most of my shopping online,” Reilly said. “I probably started late November, right around Thanksgiving, so that I knew the gifts would get here on time and Santa wouldn’t disappoint.”

But she says she had to scramble when a gift she ordered on November 28th got lost two days before Christmas.

“It was a little stressful when, especially with my older kids, they only got bigger gifts so they were only going to get one or two things under the tree, so you wanted to make sure those gifts were arriving on time,” Reilly said.

It wasn’t just present, but Christmas cards, too. Reilly says her neighbor just a few blocks away shipped out their card on December 14th, but somehow it found its way across the country.

“On December 22nd it was in Santa Ana, California and it arrived in my mailbox yesterday!” Reilly said.

It was the same story for Kate Taylor of North Kingstown.

“Our family is all over the US right now, so I shipped a bunch of gifts right after Thanksgiving and the majority of them did not make it to Christmas in time,” Taylor said.

Taylor says she also found out a package her family sent to her sat in Providence Distribution Center for two weeks before it found her mailbox.

“It never showed up for Christmas, so then I had to ask the awkward question of did you get me a present?” Taylor said.

Despite the few bumps, both moms say they’re grateful for the postal workers who had a tough job this holiday season.

“They have been absolutely hoofing it this entire time,” Taylor said. “The name of the game this year has been just having patience and trust that everybody is doing the best job they possibly can.”

“It’s cold out there, they’re working long hours,” Reilly said. “They are really working to get the rest of us things that we’ve ordered or are expecting to make our Christmas nice.”

A spokesperson for USPS Northeast Region said there have been 61 positive cases of COVID at the Providence USPS since the pandemic began. In December alone, 60 employees were in quarantine due to contact with someone who had tested positive.

They said they typically hire additional help for the holiday season, but recruitment was a challenge this year due to social distancing guidelines, so they shifted to more drive up recruitment events and house-to-house mail solicitations for job seekers.

In a statement, USPS said, “We’d like your viewers to know that we continue to flex our resources and move personnel and assets to where the mail is to minimize any impact to our customers. All of our sorting equipment is running at capacity, as are our vehicles. We’re thankful for our dedicated employees who have stepped up working additional hours where needed to fill any gaps in the process.”

Categories: News, Providence, Rhode Island