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Christmas Saved: Public Works Delivers When Amazon Doesn't

Three people stand smiling.
Anna Van Dine
Chapin Spencer, Valerie Ducharme, and Nathan Lavery from the Burlington Department of Public Works. After a large Amazon shipment mistakenly got dumped in their parking lot, they worked to get everyone their packages before Christmas.

Last week, eight pallets of Amazon packages were supposed to be brought to the post office in Burlington. Instead, the delivery driver dropped them off half a mile down the road at the Burlington Department of Public Works.

It went a little like this poem, written by DPW public information manager Rob Goulding:

Twas the week before Christmas.

When all through the town.

Not a pothole was forming.

No holes in the ground.

When out in the truck yard, arose such a clatter.

We turned off See Click Fix, to see what was the matter.

Eight Amazon pallets left at Pine without care.

In the hopes that Public Works would take it from there.

"It looked like Christmas gifts for people throughout Burlington," said Nathan Lavery, inventory control specialist at DPW. "The concern became, 'What's going to happen to these things?' Because obviously, they're supposed to be going to families all over the city."

"One of the bags it actually when we moved it, it felt like slippers," said Valerie Ducharme, customer service supervisor at DPW. "And I just pictured all these people upset because they weren't going to get their packages."

Amazon told the staff at DPW to get rid of the packages, and they would mark them as lost. But that isn't what happened.

Listen to Chapin Spencer, Valerie Ducharme, Nathan Lavery and Kenny Chagnon tell the whole story, above.

Instead, DPW staff spent the afternoon figuring out how to get all the packages over to the USPS facility.

They got in touch with Postal Fleet Services, and the next morning, the company's Burlington manager, Kenny Chagnon, and one of his drivers, Erin Witham, trucked the pallets to the post office.

A person in an orange shirt and hat stands outside a white truck.
Credit Anna Van Dine / VPR
Kenny Chagnon of Postal Fleet Services. He and another driver, Erin Witham, trucked the eight Amazon pallets from the Department of Public Works to the USPS facility down the road.

The USPS delivered the packages to their rightful recipients, just in time for the holidays.

"Everyone stepped up and made sure the presents and stuff were delivered," Chagnon said. "We were all happy."

And thus, Rob Goulding's poem ends:

When what to our wondering eyes did appear.

City staff worked through the night with a mission so clear.

We spoke not a word, moved the packages inside.

And implored the good folks at USPS for a ride.

BPD stepped in to help make it right.

Burlington, your packages will get there tonight.

Anna worked for Vermont Public from 2019 through 2023 as a reporter and co-host of the daily news podcast, The Frequency.
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