From stamp to sea: Norfolk’s ‘postal elves’ work to get packages to sailors before Christmas

Norfolk's 'postal elves' work to get packages to sailors before Christmas.

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Today and into the weekend, delivery drivers will make a final push to get packages to people before Christmas.

For our service men and women far from home, getting those holiday packages on time is even more important.

Their fellow sailors, alongside civilian workers make that happen.

“We process all mail for all Hampton Roads Navy bases and all the ships homeported here at Naval Station Norfolk, as well as all the mail for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,” said Victor Gonzalez, deputy director at Regional Navy Mail Center.

At the Norfolk center, that adds up to three million pounds just in the month of December, three times what its workers usually process.

“The goal is always to provide top-notch service to our military men and women and get them the mail by Christmas,” Gonzalez said. “[We want to] make somebody’s day.”

It takes extra support from a reserve unit, plus a lot of hard work for 45 regular employees, like LS2 Andrea Stoppel.

Stoppel always wondered what it took for mail to get from her family to her hands during her early days in the Navy. Now, she’s one of the so-called “postal elves” who make it happen.

“We get here bright and early, the goal is to get everything out as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Stoppel said.

Of course, sometimes, there are mistakes, or families simply send things too late. But even then, Gonzalez wants families to know his workers will do their best.

“Just know that there’s a group of military and civilians working really hard behind the scenes to get their mail to them, so we’ll do everything we can to do it.”

When the workload seems overwhelming this time of year, Stoppel thinks about those earlier days in the Navy.

“Knowing that these packages are going out to somebody that could possibly be lonely, that it would boost their spirits is definitely heartwarming,” she said. “It keeps us going.”