Christmas brings out the giving spirit in people, but sometimes it brings out the taking spirit, too. Some of the agencies involved in giving want to do something about that problem.

With the Salvation Army coordinating, they've formed a Christmas clearinghouse network to try to eliminate duplicate applications for holiday help. Agencies participating include the Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune, state Department of Social Services and Community Action Program.Gloria Critchfield, case manager for Catholic Community Services, said her agency plans to be involved too, although she missed the initial organizing meeting. "Last year I ran into a lot of double-dipping, and I've already run into it this year."

"With this clearinghouse we're able to weed out the greedy from the needy," said Jerry Miller, director of social services for the Salvation Army. He said some people really work the system.

Mrs. Maj. Bill Lane, special services coordinator for the Salvation Army, said her organization wants all needy families to get Christmas help, and the assistance will go further if people are not getting food baskets, toys and clothing from two and three agencies at a time.

Miller encouraged low-income people to apply for help. He said the Salvation Army hasn't had as many applicants this year as usual. "We should be over with on Dec. 15, but between now and then we're open for business."

He said applicants should come to the Christmas assistance office, 57 E. 13th South, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, they can call 322-1771. He said it's helpful, although not mandatory, for an applicant to bring a driver's license or other picture identification, welfare readout, medical card, children's Social Security numbers or birth certificates or a referral from another agency.