PACAF promoting stamp collecting
Pacific Air Force post offices are commemorating National Stamp Collecting Month with a variety of activities and promotions in October.
Founded in 1981 by the U.S. Postal Service as a way to introduce children ages 8-12 to the hobby, the program also is aimed at increasing awareness about the recreational benefits of stamp collecting among all age groups.
Promotions are planned at all PACAF installations and the command’s postal operating locations in Bangkok, Thailand; and Australia, including Canberra, Melbourne and Alice Springs.
“We are providing the commemorative stamp stock from our office but are not mandating specific activities be conducted,” said Chief Master Sgt. John Czumalowski, PACAF’s chief of postal operations. “Activities will vary based on location, number of patrons served and the initiative and creativity of the postmaster.
“Some of our postmasters have year-round displays, while others may create a display to commemorate Stamp Collecting Month. Again, this varies by location.”
A commemorative stamp is postage issued to honor a place, event or person, according to Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Weaver, PACAF superintendent of postal operations. They typically feature presidents, congressional leaders, artists of every talent, historic locations and events.
The most popular commemorative stamp in U.S. history is the “Elvis” postage released in 1993. According to a U.S. Postal Service estimate, more than 124 million have been purchased and stored.
National Stamp Collecting Month once was a robust program throughout the Pacific, according to Weaver. Limited funding in recent years curtailed activities, but a visit from Postmaster General John Potter to the Air Postal Squadron at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, in January rekindled interest in commemorative stamp collecting and regenerated monies.
This year, PACAF secured more than $5,000 in commemorative stamp stock to distribute to military postal customers, Weaver said.
“Some postmasters will opt for free drawings for patrons waiting in mailing lines, while others will advertise stamp collecting through displays in base libraries or post office lobbies,” he added. “A favorite in past years has been stamp design contests for elementary school children, often with the postmaster or base leadership serving as judges.
“Stamp collecting is a hobby that can be enjoyed by the entire family, young and old alike.”
Weaver said Air Force personnel stationed overseas also can buy and collect commemorative stamps from foreign countries through local postal facilities.
“They can serve as low-cost souvenirs from the country you’re serving in, or those countries you’ve visited,” he added.
Czumalowski said stamp collecting is quite popular among Pacific airmen.
“We have had plenty of involvement by our customers in the past,” he said. “The program has been dormant in the past couple years, but when it was active, our patrons were quite involved and interested in our activities.
“In my experience, each of our larger post offices — such as Osan, Yokota, Misawa and Kadena — probably has at least 10-20 customers who come in on a regular basis to inquire about the latest commemorative-stamp availability.”
All stamps released by the U.S. Postal Service are available through Air Force post offices, Czumalowski said.
To view the stamps in the 2004 U.S. commemorative stamp program, visit the postal store at www.usps.com/shop and click on “Release Schedule” in the Collector’s Corner.