'Rudolph' rescued for the holidays
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel County Editor
Wednesday, 21 November 2012 10:01
RUDOLPH - As the story goes, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer saved Christmas one foggy night. This year, it's Rudolph that needs to be rescued.
|File photo. A detailed view of the Rudolph Reindeer Stamp on an envelope at the Rudolph Post Office. (Photo: Andrew Weber/Sentinel-Tribune)
Due to U.S. Postal Service cuts, the much fawned over Rudolph cancellation stamp was almost canceled itself.
Budget cuts have left the small post office south of Bowling Green with just one employee.
"I'm on my own here. I couldn't do it by myself," said Charlotte Lamb, officer in charge at the Rudolph post office.
Every Christmas season, the tiny post office is flooded with mail from people wanting the famous reindeer's official mark on their holiday cards and packages. Lamb estimated that nearly 80,000 letters come from all over the world to get the festive cancellation stamp depicting Rudolph and his glowing nose.
"This has been here for decades," Lamb said. But knowing she couldn't handle the holiday demands alone, Lamb made the difficult decision to cancel the Christmas stamp this year.
The potential loss of the Rudolph stamp and its impact on the town's reputation did not sit well with Liberty Township officials, where the unincorporated community is located.
"That is our trademark," said Rod Lucas, Liberty Township fiscal officer. "People send packages from all over the country."
"As you know, and I know, the most historic thing we have in Rudolph is our stamp," Lucas said.
Not willing to let the deer Christmas tradition be sacrificed for budget cuts, the township officials contacted State Rep. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green.
Gardner hoofed it over to the post office on Monday to see what could be done to rescue Rudolph.
"It's a big deal to a lot of people," he said. So big, that the seasonal tradition is like a snow avalanche of Christmas cards in the office.
"It takes a lot of time to do those stamps," Gardner said.
Budget cuts leading to the reindeer's demise could also reach beyond Christmas, he added. The special cancellation stamp brings in about $8,000 to $10,000 in revenue every year to the small post office. Without that business, the Rudolph post office could be viewed as less important and more vulnerable to even further cuts, Gardner said.
Initially the township officials and Gardner talked about holding a pancake breakfast fundraiser to help pay for extra holiday help for the reindeer markings.
"We were going to find a way to save the stamp," Lucas said.
But to keep Rudolph from being fired so close to Christmas, the postmaster for this region agreed to allow volunteers to staff the cancellation process this season.
"So Rudolph was saved," Gardner said.
Lamb is pleased the tradition will continue, since this is a particularly enjoyable time to work at the post office.
"I love to see their excitement in their faces," as people drop off holiday items. She plans to continue allowing children to stamp the cancellation on special envelopes destined for grandparents or other family.
"They just think that is awesome," Lamb said.
Township officials are also relieved that their reindeer reputation was preserved.
"We were going to fight this to the very end," Lucas said.
Volunteers will be allowed only in certain areas of the post office. They will be asked to cover an estimated 40 hours a week for three weeks before Christmas. Gardner has already volunteered for a two-hour shift.
Anyone interested in volunteering may call Lamb at (419) 686-4041.