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High school students helping UPS get packages out on time

By Dave Franzman / www.kcrg.com / December 22nd, 2016

School may be out for students at Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids. But some aren’t taking their holiday break just yet.

At least 120 Prairie High School students are on duty at the UPS facility at the Eastern Iowa Airport helping get packages out on time for Christmas on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016. (Dave Franzman/KCRG-TV9)

United Parcel Service workers will handle millions of packages this holiday season. And once again, meeting the deadlines for UPS overnight shipping out of the Eastern Iowa Airport is depending on a little help from those still in high school.

The UPS facility at the airport usually handles with about 8,000 overnight parcels a day. But on Thursday and Friday, together, that package count will hit somewhere between 80,000 and 100,000. And many of the extra hands making it happen in Cedar Rapids are students in the College Community District.

Michael Arndt, a UPS Human Resources Manager from Des Moines, says the company in Iowa couldn’t meet those shipping promises without the help of local students.

It started five years ago when UPS recruiters went to Prairie to see if students, 17-years of age and up, would want to do some limited before-Christmas work. The response was encouraging and Prairie students now work before and after school carting packages and full days when the holiday break begins.

Now, it’s become almost a tradition for Prairie students to work for UPS just in the week before Christmas.

Arndt said this year the company hired 120 students. That equals at least a quarter of the entire senior class. The job pays $10 plus an hour and many students, like senior Peyton Staab, say you can earn enough to pay for all your Christmas shopping in just a few days of handle those packages.

“It’s a great program. You’re here with all your friends and you’re making sure everybody’s Christmas presents get delivered,” Staab said.

As for the regular UPS workers, full or part time, they appreciate the high school help. Bret Wagner, a ramp worker for UPS at the airport explained.

“I work 10 hours a week normally. I’m working 50 now to catch up and these guys are picking up a lot of that so it’s a tremendous amount,” Wagner said.

While UPS primarily recruits high school students from Prairie every year, some former students come back from college to pick up some quick Christmas cash. Students say it’s almost like a Prairie alumni reunion amid all the shipping boxes.

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