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Some kiddies who write to Father Christmas get right to the point, saying what they want - "a doll and a best friend," "to get my cast off." Others ask only for the clothes their parents can't afford.

Some are concerned that Santa be able to find their house - and get in once he arrives.Every single one claims to have been good.

"Santa, this year I don't want toys," wrote Michelle. "I need a coat for me and my brother . . . my mother is good but she can't buy me a new coat, but I know you can."

Donna, the mother of "two beautiful little girls whose father has deserted them," asked Santa to explain why her children wouldn't get presents this Christmas.

Coping with a full-time job and attending college, she wrote that some paydays she can't even afford food.

"What I would like is for Santa to write my girls and explain why Christmas is not just a time for presents but also a time for sharing and being with your family. It is so hard for children to understand why Santa skips our house."

By Christmas, the Postal Service estimates, 250,000 children will have sent letters to the North Pole.

Every year, many requests are opened at local post offices and passed on to his helpers - social service agencies, charities, community groups and people with deep pockets.

This Christmas, many of the letters are being opened by his elves in Atlanta, where the Coca-Cola Co. and its employees have contributed money and manpower to screen Santa's mail and to be sure he knows where he is most needed.

The company is donating 5 cents for each letter received, up to 2 million letters, to The Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program.

What are the elves reading? Letters like these.

Andy, 4, asked for a shaving kit, "so I could shave my face with daddy," and for "a pretend blender."

A note with no name asked how he and the reindeer were doing and then told him, just so he'd know, that "somebody here was a little bad this year, but it could not be me." The child with no name asked for a computer and cross-country skis, among other things.