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ONE OF SANTA'S ASSISTANTS NEEDS YOUR HELP.

Byline: DENNIS McCARTHY

Stacia Crane sat in her office Thursday trying to figure out where everybody is this year. Usually, by now, dozens of volunteers would be in this room with her, helping make Christmas dreams come true for hundreds of kids.

But this year, only one person has stepped forward to help the woman whom the U.S. Postal Service has put in charge of handling all the letters addressed to the North Pole from our area.

Letters from kids that make you laugh one minute and then break your heart the next.

``I don't know whether it's all the stuff going on in Washington, D.C., Iraq, or just the warm weather, but people haven't caught the Christmas spirit yet to help us out like they have in the past,'' Crane said, opening another letter addressed to Santa.

It's from a little girl, Angela, 9, living in San Fernando. She says she's been asking God not to let Santa forget her family this year.

Her dad works but doesn't make a lot of money, and it's been pretty rocky for her family this year, especially after thieves broke into their house two months ago and took just about everything.

Her parents and brothers and sisters are living with an aunt now, and her mom doesn't have money for gifts.

``Santa, I'm sorry to bother you, but I feel really sad,'' Angela closed. ``My dream is to go to Disneyland, but for us, it isn't possible. I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.''

Crane shook her head and put the letter aside, reaching for another one.

``Thirteen years and it still gets to you,'' she said. ``It's so hard sometimes.''

She is worried, this woman. Worried that next week, when the big crunch in letters to Santa hits her desk, there won't be anyone she can call or reach out to to help her answer the more touching, neediest requests.

Not all these kids ask for toys. A lot of them just want some clothing and school supplies.

So Crane's asking for our help. Asking us to, please, take one of these letters addressed to the North Pole from her.

She's asking us to play Santa Claus so some kid will have a special, memorable Christmas.

She's asking us to forget about impeachment, Iraq and the hot weather for a few minutes and catch the Christmas spirit.

If you can, give Stacia Crane a call at (805) 294-6982.

The Christmas show went on last weekend at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Canyon Country, even though some Grinches tried to close it down.

``I don't think any of the 4,600 people who attended the three performances we put on knew what had happened,'' said the Rev. Marty Brauer.

What happened was this: Somebody broke into the church's gym late Friday night and stole a 24-channel sound board, eight CD players, halogen lights and all the recorded music that was to make ``Follow The Star'' come alive.

It is a major production with a cast of 200 people performing eight different scenes.

``I got a call Saturday morning at 6 a.m. from the crew saying we had a problem,'' Brauer said. ``All the equipment was gone, and we had a show to put on for a few thousand people at 6:30 that night.

``After we got over the initial shock, we all decided there was no way the show wasn't going to go on. So, we started to scramble.''

One of the crew members who worked for a sound production studio borrowed a sound board, and the Do It Center in Valencia donated lighting.

``We had some backup cassette tapes of the music, and slowly, the show started to come together again,'' Brauer said.

By 6:30 p.m., as a few thousand people filed into the church carrying the price of admission to this wonderful Christmas play in their arms - canned goods and food items for local needy families - the cast and crew of ``Follow The Star'' was ready to go.

The show went on without a snag.

So much for the Grinches who thought they were stealing this Christmas show from Bethlehem Lutheran Church.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 18, 1998
Words:702
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