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Many Kids Asking Santa for Basics, Not Toys

This year, kids don't seem to be just worrying if the will be on the naughty or nice list - but about their parents economic problems.

U.S. Postal Service workers who handle letters addressed to Santa at the North Pole told USA Today that this year the letters are heartbreaking - and more are asking for basics -- coats, socks and shoes -- rather than toys and games.

Pete Fontanta, a customer relations coordinator with the Postal service, has been head elf for 15 years.

"The need is greater this year than I've ever seen it," he told USA Today. "One little girl didn't want anything for herself. She wanted a winter coat for her mother."

Fontana and his staff of 22 will sort 2 million letters as part of Operation Santa, which connects children in need with "Secret Santas."

Among the letters USA Today highlighted was one from Cesar, 7, who wrote for himself and his baby sister.

"This year my moom don't have much money to spend on Christmas gifts so I'm writing to you," Cesar told Santa, according to USA Today. "It would make us very happy if you and your elves would bring us toys and clothes."

There are more letters from unemployed parents asking for kids' gifts they can't buy themselves. Meanwhile, Fontana said that a sour economy is decreasing the number of Secret Santas. The Postal Service estimates that about half of the letters won't get answered.

Melanney, 9, asked Santa for a coat and boots. "I have been a very good girl this year," she wrote.

Click here for a map of Post Office locations participating in Operation Santa.