Dec. 14, 1990

North PoleDear Deseret News readers:

I'm in trouble.

This has been a bad year for Old Santa.

Costs of materials have gone up; reindeer fuel prices have skyrocketed and some of the elves who usually help me have been called to duty in the Persian Gulf.

Today, while I was making my list and checking it twice, I got a jolt. With Christmas less than two weeks away, I don't think I'm going to be able to fill the wish-lists of all the good little boys and girls in your community.

Earlier this year, when it became obvious that this was going to be a tough holiday season for a lot of families because of layoffs, illness, etc., I asked the Deseret News for help. Once again, they came through with Santa's Helping Hand. (I've been relying on Deseret News readers for a long time and they've always come through).

But none of us expected the need we'd find in Salt Lake County. The good news is, the newspaper has placed about 250 families.

The bad news? Well, 417 families - with a total of 1,382 kids - may not have anything under the tree this year. They may not even have a tree. So far, we haven't been able to find a sponsor for these families. (I didn't think there were that many families left to place, but I did a careful count and there are.)

Let me tell you a little about these families. Most of them have two or three children, although there are quite a few four-, five- or six-children families. We have a handful of families with seven children and one each with eight and nine children.

I've already checked them out to be sure they've been good little boys and girls. We use a screening process, which we share with other programs in the area to avoid duplications. Applications for several Santa's helper programs were screened for income eligibility by the Community Action Program, which gave them to the Salvation Army to enter into a computer and then distribute so no one would be helped twice.

I'm hoping that some companies and families will pick up the slack. It's not hard. One of my elves will provide the phone number and some information about the family you adopt. You can contact the family to find out what the children want and need. I'm not asking anyone to be extravagant: just a few toys and clothing and something to eat on Christmas Day if it's needed. Some of you can band together so no one has to work too hard.

The need this year is incredible. Frankly, I've never been so swamped with requests. It's going to be a sad, sad season if I can't find a way to get gifts to these little guys.

I hate to beg. I'm generally a jolly old guy. But I guess there are worse things than begging - like keeping quiet while kids do without on Christmas Day.

If you can help, call one of my elves at 237-2139. Thanks.