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ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS . . .

SHARE ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS . . .

All year long, I've been collecting little items to put on my "wish list" for Christmas 1989.

I'm pretty pragmatic, so I don't have a lot of "peace and joy and love" ideas. I don't think you can wish for those things; you have to create them yourself.I want simple things that speak to me of basic logic.

For instance:

- Caring shouldn't be seasonal.

I want people to be involved with places like the homeless shelter year-round, rather than just during the Christmas season.

From now until Christmas, there are special activities planned for homeless families - particularly the children - by different church and civic groups nearly every day at the shelter.

I think that's terrific. This is a wonderful time of year to think of the homeless and share some of the bounty that we enjoy with those who aren't doing so well.

But none of us are strangers to the letdown that follows the holidays. And for these children, it's doubly hard. Their need for attention and toys and food and clothing is a year-round need. And when the community pulls out at the end of the season, these children feel twice as neglected.

- I want the agencies that send legal notifications to people who are blind to send those notices in Braille.

Supplemental Security Income, available only to the blind, the disabled and the handicapped, for example, recently made big headlines when a study showed that a large number of people had their benefits terminated when they should not have been. The study also showed that many had not understood the notification concerning their legal rights to appeal the termination.

It seems to me that the government should realize that people who receive SSI because they are blind probably don't read the print notices real well. And most people value their privacy and don't want to ask "just anyone" to read correspondence concerning public assistance or government aid.

- In 1990, I'd be thrilled not to receive any phone calls like this one:

"Miss Collins, I think you should do a comprehensive piece on runaway kids. You have no idea what kind of pain it (or a lot of other problems like drug abuse, etc.) causes for families. I could tell you incredible stories about the effects on families, since it happened to us."

"Would you like to talk about it?" I inquire.

"Oh, no. You need to interview someone else. I don't like to talk to reporters."

Speaking as a reporter, it's awfully difficult to "do a comprehensive piece" on anything if people aren't willing to discuss the topic. And it's frustrating when everyone wants someone else to speak out about an issue.

- I want Deseret News readers to know that they made a big difference in a lot of lives during 1989.

Readers provided enough money for Frank Petro, a young man who was permanently disabled in an accident, to get a Touch and Speak machine that will allow him verbal communication. Although he doesn't have the machine yet (it will take a while to get it and have it programmed), Petro was thrilled and touched by the response to a story the newspaper ran about his problems.

Others provided money to help children and adults finance lifesaving surgeries.

And readers are already gearing up to provide Christmas through the Santa's Helping Hand program to very low-income families who otherwise would do without this year.

In record numbers, people in this community are donating their time and talents to non-profit agencies, to school programs and to hands-on efforts like building sandwiches and serving dinner to the hungry.

Staffers at the Community Services Council report that a heartwarming number of people have volunteered to meet some of the needs listed each week in the Helping Hand column.

- I wish that people who work for government agencies would learn to communicate in simple English. I'm tired of trying to translate reports that couch and obscure important information with words like "interface" (doesn't anyone talk any more?) or, perhaps worse, agencies that write and speak alphabet soup. They don't seem to realize that not everyone understands acronyms - and that the same acronyms are frequently used by different people to mean different things.

- Finally, I wish that I could figure out what to call the agencies I report on now that the Department of Social Services has been reorganized and, in some cases, renamed. I also wish I could remember to forget Office of Community Operations, since it no longer exists.

On the bright side - and unlike some of my other "wishes" - that will come with time.