U.S. Postal Service center on Long Island works around-the-clock to handle mail

From now through the New Year, several hundred thousand letters and packages will be processed daily at the United States Postal Service's Mid-Island Processing and Distribution Center in Melville.

The facility's new Single Induction Parcel Sorter, or SIPS, machine spans the length of a football field with an overhead scanner to register each address before sorting it into as many as 200 ZIP codes. 

"Last year on peak days, we'd do 100,000 incoming packages and 140,000 outgoing," plant manager John Onken said. "We can do outgoing, which is around the country, incoming, which would be then to ZIP codes, each post office."

Mail carriers are busy during the day but employees on the night tour have to hustle because that is when the majority of the daily mail is finalized and dispatched to post offices for delivery. 

"We pick up from all of the post offices in Suffolk County, it's usually all in here by 10 [p.m.]," Onken said. "We have to be done with the outgoing mail by 2:30 in the morning to hit all targets." 

The 1-million-square-foot facility is where all of Suffolk County's mail and the outgoing mail for Nassau County is processed.

While post offices are closed on Sundays, this center runs 24/7. Come the holidays, the team of 1,300 grows by an additional 70 seasonal employees.

Strategic communications specialist Amy Gibbs offered these mail-by dates for items you want delivered by Christmas:

"If you're writing greeting cards, definitely your benchmark is December 17, December 19 for Priority Mail," Gibbs said. "And if you're last minute, which we don't recommend, you're going to be looking at December 22nd for Priority Mail Express."

She said sending things sooner is always safer.