I hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving issue of the Portland Press Herald. If you are a Sunday-only subscriber and were surprised to find the paper on your doorstep (or in your delivery tube) this morning, it is because today is what we call a “bonus day” in the newspaper business.

It simply means all of our Sunday subscribers also get the holiday paper so we can put the advertising inserts in the hands of more readers. You’ve got a paper weighing almost 5 pounds stuffed with exceptional journalism, including our annual “10 Mainers to Be Thankful For” feature, and more than 45 inserts from retailers to prepare you for your holiday shopping. Please don’t miss the 64-page gift guide, which gives you shopping ideas from local businesses.

Since we’re in the spirit of being thankful, I want to share my appreciation for the unsung heroes of our business – our newspaper carriers. More than 250 Mainers get up (or never go to bed) around one o’clock in the morning to get your newspaper to you by 6 a.m.

They are a hard-working, dedicated group of men and women who drive the dark, often treacherous back roads of rural Maine and icy, steep streets of the cities to get you the vital news and information we publish each day.

The process begins with our talented reporters, editors and photographers producing exceptional journalism that gets printed at our printing facility in South Portland by another steadfast group – our pressmen. The paper then gets assembled in the “mailroom,” where the advertising fliers get inserted into the news sections by our distribution team. Box trucks leave the South Portland facility around 1 a.m., en route to our 10 depots throughout the state.

The carriers wait for the freshly printed papers to arrive at the depots, which are unmarked warehouses. Here they put the papers in those yellow bags, review all of the special delivery instructions (leave it on the porch, throw it on the breezeway), and head out on their routes. Carriers who deliver to the most rural routes can drive up to 150 miles each night to deliver 70 papers. Animal encounters, icy roads and white-out conditions are some of the forces that can produce a late (or missed) delivery. The carriers take pride in minimizing the number of complaints, and many have developed long relationships with their customers.

I recently visited some of the depots and had a chance to meet many of the carriers, who shared their stories with me. One carrier who delivers the Kennebec Journal saved the life of one of his customers when he found her unresponsive on her front porch. Another carrier came across an early-morning car accident and rescued the passenger from a car submerged in a culvert. Tragically, one of our carriers, Tom Poulin, died in a car accident this fall while he was delivering the Morning Sentinel. It is a tough and often dangerous profession.

It’s worth remembering that just like waiters, hairstylists and cab drivers, newspaper carriers depend on tips as part of their income. Like so many hard working Mainers, our carriers often work two jobs to provide for their families. And who else but your carrier delivers seven days a week? So please remember them at the holidays and throughout the year.

Our entire organization is devoted to bringing you news and information that keeps you informed, engaged and often entertained. On this snowy Thanksgiving Day, I want to offer a special word of thanks to our newspaper carriers. Without them, the newspaper we take pride in producing every day doesn’t get in your hands. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

– Lisa DeSisto is the publisher of the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram