PUNTA GORDA — For the fourth year in a row, the U.S. Post Office in Punta Gorda is vying for number one in the nation for Breast Cancer Research stamp sales during the month of October.
Led by clerk Eileen Dimase — dubbed “Postal Queen Eileen” by some customers — the Punta Gorda Post Office has already taken the top spot in Florida with $23,826.75 in sales, but is lagging behind in nationwide sales.
“We’re behind, but we’re doing good,” Dimase said. “I’m still amazed how wonderful the customers are here and the team that I work with in Punta Gorda.”
Last year, the team sold $68,432 of Forever stamps in the annual sales contest.
This year, Dimase said they’ve taken it up a notch.
“We have the Punta Gorda Pink Pumpkin Patch where people can come in and take their selfies,” she said. “I had a couple of ladies (Wednesday) that were like two little girls — they had so much fun sitting there taking photos.”
The team has also set up a booth to hand out popcorn to customers on Thursday afternoons to promote the Forever stamps and Breast Cancer Awareness research.
“It’s just a big team effort to make the Punta Gorda Pink Pumpkin Patch a reality,” Dimase said. “When you have a vision and you just let it out there and then everybody just chips in … it’s just amazing.”
Each year, USPS offices across the nation work to raise research funds for Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a designated stamp as part of the USPS Help Stamp Out Breast Cancer Campaign in October.
The Forever stamps are offered in packs of 100 for $75 ($17 donation) and 20 for $15 (a $3.40 donation).
They are also offered in “bricks.” Each brick amounts to 2,000 stamps for $1,500 with a $340 donation to breast cancer research.
While she does enjoy the competition, raising money for breast cancer research is personal for Dimase — her grandmother died of breast cancer when she was younger, and she’s been an advocate ever since.
“My grandmother lost the fight to it and so (this is) in honor of her and coworkers here that have won the fight that are in remission,” Dimase said. “It’s about helping and being able to say, ‘Okay, here today we can make a difference.
“You need to make a difference in people’s lives.”
USPS Customer Service Supervisor Sonya Botelho said October is probably the best month they have the whole year at the post office.
“Everybody just gets together and works so hard on this,” Botelho said.
“It’s such a team and community effort,” she added. “We have some great customers that are dedicated to Punta Gorda, to the post office, and to breast cancer awareness research.”
Postmaster Melissa Kruzel said she’s always blown away at how much the contest brings people together.
“I’m amazed everyday by all of our employees coming together on this,” she said. “It’s a large office and there are a lot of people here and everyone puts full effort into this.
“I’m very proud to be in management when something like this happens.”