Turn up the volume Postcard project goal is to keep Rupert post office open
By Courtney Parker
Correspondent | March 11,2013
A campaign is under way urging people from all over the world to send postcards to the post office in Rupert to help boost its mail volume and keep it from closing. Above are some of the postcards received so far from around the world.
On the outside, the tiny white post office in Rupert may look quiet, with the occasional chicken or two occupying the front porch.
But lately this local post office has been buzzing with an influx of vibrant homemade postcards from around the world.
After being faced with the possibility of hours being cut or even a total closure, local residents knew something needed to be done to save their post office.
In an attempt to increase the post office’s mail volume, landlord Jane Davies posted a plea for help on her personal blog asking family, friends and strangers alike to send in art postcards.
“They really came in fast and furiously,” said Davies, astonished by the amount of mail she received in the first week. “There were beautiful paintings of the post office and stitched mini quilts and collages and all sorts of cool stuff.”
Those willing to help were encouraged to send handmade postcards addressed to Davies and in return the first 200 participants would receive a personalized homemade card.
Though the card count has rapidly surpassed the 200 mark, she still attempts to respond to as many cards as possible.
Davies scans each card she receives and posts them to an online gallery for people near and far to admire.
“It was overwhelming at first,” she said, adding that she would spend hours a day simply uploading new cards.
“People are aware that this office could go away if we don’t support it,” said Davies, hoping the postcards will continue to trickle in and bring up numbers until the office’s annual review scheduled for the end of the year.
The U.S. Postal Service has fallen upon hard times in the past year, registering a $15.9 billion loss.
“We are happy that our customers feel the passion and commitment to participate in this project to boost the fortunes of their local office,” said Tom Rizzo, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service Northern New England District.
Rizzo said that to positively affect the small town post office, the project would need to run for a long time and include significant purchases of postcards and postage, coming in many individual transactions.
“Considering the scope of the continuing financial challenges facing the organization, it is hard to predict with certainty how effective this activity would be,” he said.
Though the project has its skeptics, the uncertainty has not stopped participants far and wide from standing up for the cause and sending in their handmade postcards.
“As an artist and art teacher I am always on the lookout for ways that art can impact change in communities,” said Sharon Gorberg, of Newton, Mass., who has sent more than a dozen postcards ranging from abstract images to watercolor paintings of animals.
Gorberg said small town post offices, like the one in Rupert, play an important role in the community and serve as a liaison between the town and the people who call it home.
“And one of the best things about this project is that anyone can participate at any age,” she said.
While postcards have been received from almost every state, news of the project has traveled far beyond the U.S.
“A local post office is more than just a place to send and receive mail,” said Australia resident Jo Murray, “but a community meeting point where local news is exchanged, meetings arranged, and generally a focus for those who might be alone at home.”
After reading about the project on Davies’ blog, he knew he wanted to help the small town and quickly took out his painting supplies and stamps to begin his card.
Murray personally connects with the story behind the project since his own local post office was once in a similar situation before a community outcry put a stop to it.
“I realize that ‘people power’ can make a difference,” he said. “I fully support these post offices, wherever they are.”
The ongoing support and dedication to the post office has been greatly appreciated townwide, but one resident in particular has been especially moved.
“I love my post office,” said Postmaster Elizabeth Winters, the officer in charge at the Rupert office, who has been in awe of the amount of attention her office has received.
Winters has been with the USPS for more than a decade and has been stationed at the Rupert office for three and a half years.
She said that although she is worried about the financial hardship that decreased hours or a closure would cause her, her main concern is the impact on the community.
She said she hopes the postcards will continue to come and believes the project has helped the office’s business.
“Everyone has been very supportive of the post office during this time of uncertainty,” she said. “And I thank them for that.”