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Air Force Staff Sgt. Charles Quentin carries mail trays through the back room of the Yokota post office.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Charles Quentin carries mail trays through the back room of the Yokota post office. (Roger Harnack / S&S)

Air Force Staff Sgt. Charles Quentin carries mail trays through the back room of the Yokota post office.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Charles Quentin carries mail trays through the back room of the Yokota post office. (Roger Harnack / S&S)

Tech Sgt. Melissa Smith sorts mail arriving at Yokota.

Tech Sgt. Melissa Smith sorts mail arriving at Yokota. (Roger Harnack / S&S)

Air Force Master Sgt. Owen Smith points out how full the shelves are in the Yokota post office.

Air Force Master Sgt. Owen Smith points out how full the shelves are in the Yokota post office. (Roger Harnack / S&S)

Air Force Staff Sgt. Charles Quentin, front, and Senior Airmen Kenneth Nelson, center, and Chad McBee unload one of a half-dozen mail trucks arriving at Yokota Air Base, Japan, on Friday.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Charles Quentin, front, and Senior Airmen Kenneth Nelson, center, and Chad McBee unload one of a half-dozen mail trucks arriving at Yokota Air Base, Japan, on Friday. (Roger Harnack / S&S)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Holiday mail is stacking up in the back room of the post office here.

Hundreds of unclaimed boxes fill areas beneath and atop shelves. And hundreds more will arrive in the days leading to Christmas.

“We don’t have a lot of shelf space left right now,” Air Force Master Sgt. Owen Smith, a postal official here, said Friday. “If folks don’t come by quickly, we’ll have to really get creative.”

Smith is pleading with base residents to pick up Christmas packages so there will be room for the 5 tons or more expected to arrive daily this holiday season.

According to Smith, about a half-dozen mail-laden trucks arrive daily. That’s nearly double the amount of mail arriving daily during the year, Smith said, noting 10 temporary employees have been hired to help the normal “outstanding” postal crew of 34 who sort packages.

Postal officials say patrons need to pick up a package within a day or two of its arrival if there’s to be space for boxes yet to come.

“Come check your mailbox at least twice per day,” said Staff Sgt. John Autry, who heads the outgoing mail division here. He advises hitting the post office first thing each morning and again at lunch time. That’s because most packages and letters are sorted overnight and early in the day.

According to Smith, postal workers are busy this time of year from 7:30 each morning until 2 a.m. the following day.

This week before Christmas, patrons can pick up their mail from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and 9:30 a.m. until midnight Christmas Eve.

The post office is closed Christmas Day.

“We’re giving everyone an opportunity to get packages,” he said. “No one will go without their Christmas gifts because we didn’t get the mail out.”

Speaking of getting the mail out, Autry said if you still have cards and gifts to send, don’t count on them arriving at their destination before Christmas.

“They’ll make good New Year’s gifts,” he said, noting mailing deadlines have long since passed.

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