Postal Service comes to the rescue in downtown Sharon for money orders

Feb. 13—SHARON — Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of — postal money orders.

OK, that last part isn't from the memorable line associated with the U.S. Postal Service. But many downtown Sharon residents could soon be relying on Postal Service money orders.

Rite Aid's decision to close its downtown Sharon store on March 17, means the loss of its prescription drug services. But Sharon Pharmacy at Primary Health Network's main office in Sharon's downtown said it will help fill that gap.

The loss of the drug store has another casualty — it provides money order services. A lot of residents in the downtown live in low-income housing and don't own cars or have checking accounts, Holly Nogay, executive director of the Mercer County Housing Authority, said.

"Most of them rely on getting money orders at Rite Aid to pay their rent," Nogay said. "Some of them are really, really concerned about what they're going to do now."

There is one nearby alternative. Like all post offices, the one in downtown Sharon at Shenango Avenue and Silver Street provides Postal Service money orders. It's about five blocks from the Rite Aid that is closing.

"It's a pretty quick service," Mark Lawrence, a Postal Service strategic communications specialist said.

There are rules and fees.

Generating a post office money order has a maximum of $1,000 per order but customers can purchase multiple money orders of $1,000. Federal regulatoins require customers to fill out forms if they purchase more than $3,000 worth of money orders in a single day.

Sending a money order up to $500 carries a $2.10 fee. Money orders over $500 have a $3 fee.

"It would need to be paid in cash, or with a debit card that uses a pin number to access an account where there is cash on hand," Lawrence said. "You wouldn't be able to go in and write a check or use a regular credit card."

Travelers' checks can be used if the purchase is for at least 50% of the value of the traveler's checks.

Post office staff generate money orders at the counter and give receipts that allow the bearer to track the money order's status online with the Postal Service.