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Kazakh Kids Ask For Bailout

Every winter, Kazakh postal workers receive hundreds of letters from children addressed to Grandfather Frost.

But this year, where postal workers once saw appeals for toys, cars, and Barbie dolls, now they're seeing a new category of wishes: for Grandfather Frost to help their parents through the financial crisis.

According to RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, postal workers say children are now asking for new cars for their parents, or even help with the mortgage payments. (The story is in Russian and Kazakh.)

Postal Service head Altynbike Muhamedgalieva said the requests have changed over the years.

"Before, children asked for soft toys, candy, cake and oranges. Today, they're asking for computers, mobile phones, with detailed descriptions of their options and brands," Muhamedgalieva said. "And almost every letter asks for something for their mother, grandmother, or dad."

Postal workers have in the past tried to answer some of the letters -- especially if they're from poor families -- and have sometimes bought them gifts.

But this year, it might be that bit more difficult to fulfill many of the children's wishes.

-- Gulbanu Abenova