Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Anthony. Anthony Wonders, “Can you mail a person?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Anthony!

How do you like to communicate with people you know? Do you use email? Perhaps you like to text your friends. Maybe you use social media. Technology has made instant messaging common—and slower physical mail is sometimes called “snail mail.” Even if you’re crazy about technology, though, there’s still something about going out to the mailbox and finding an old-fashioned handwritten letter waiting for you.

What kinds of mail do you get in your mailbox at home? Does your family subscribe to any magazines? Maybe you get lots of bills and ads, too.

But what about notes from friends or relatives? On your birthday, do you get cards in the mail? How about get-well wishes when you’ve been ill?

Have you ever thought about how those pieces of mail get from their senders to your mailbox? When you stop to think about it, it’s really amazing how so much mail can go to so many places in such a short time.

It all starts when the United States Postal Service (USPS) receives a piece of mail. This can happen when you put a letter in your mailbox. You can also put a letter in a drop box or give it to an employee at a local post office.

From your local post office, your mail travels to a mail processing plant. There, they sort it for shipment. The USPS uses advanced technology to scan mail for ZIP Codes. With this data, they print barcodes onto pieces of mail that are readable by routers—which separate mail into different areas for more sorting and then shipment.

Some mail may need to be sorted and re-routed several times, depending on how far it is traveling. It may end up on huge trucks or even airplanes. Eventually, it will reach a regional and finally a local post office. There, they sort and route it for delivery to an address.

While computers do much of the work, people complete the last piece of the puzzle—hand delivery to a specific mailbox by a USPS mail carrier. And they carry a lot of mail! Over 500,000 U.S. Postal Service employees work hard to make sure that almost 129 billion pieces of mail get delivered every year!

Do you like to receive mail? What about sending a letter? Do you think you can make someone’s day by sending them a note? Your mail is safe with the USPS—after all, their ads in the 1990s said, “We deliver!”

Standards: CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.3, CCRA.R.8, CCRA.R.9, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.4, CCRA.L.5, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.SL.3, CCRA.W.2

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Whew! Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day really, really stinks!