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Here on ThriftyFun, we get a lot of requests for direct assistance which we just don't have the resources to provide. The good news is that in almost all areas of the country, assistance is available. Search for "Christmas Charities" and you will see a series of posts we've done with resources specific to each state.
However, most local agencies and churches offer assistance to families that are already enrolled by November. If you think you might need assistance this year, please reach out to your local agencies as soon as possible. If you wait until the week before Thanksgiving or Christmas, it is often too late.
Programs like Toys for Toys often require that you are already enrolled in a state or federal assistance program like WIC, Head Start, or you get free or reduced lunches. Contacting your local agency will help you get started. Here's information about WIC:
The YWCA is a great resource in many areas as well. They provide direct assistance in some areas or can refer you to local programs.
Sites like Ample Harvest can help you find local community pantries or food banks, which can help with food for the holidays and connect you to other assistance.
Local churches are also a good resource. They host giving trees, food and clothing drives, free holiday meals, and holiday bazaars where you can purchase inexpensive arts and crafts.
Remember that the most memorable part of the holidays is being together with family and friends. A gathering can be made special without overspending on food, decorations, and gifts. Treasure the time you have together.
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
Is there any assistance for Christmas help for families with teenagers?
Check your local Catholic church, they cover families of all ages.
ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
Does anybody know of any agencies that are helping with Christmas for low income families?
By Chiquita Shaw from Birmingham, AL
Usually the Salvation Army does a big Christmas drive and donates them. Otherwise find your local Toys for Tots and ask them where to go to get help. (10/06/2009)
Whatever you do, get on their lists now.This is going to be a big year for them. Them being any agency that can help.
Fire Bureau/Police Department I think it's called the Sunshine Division in Oregon, maybe nationwide. Anyway, call a non-emergency number.
Salvation Army, St Vincent De Paul, United Good Neighbors.
Catholic Charities. Yellow pages for charities and benevolent associations. They will also refer you elsewhere. Ask every place you call for another place to call for people you know.
Your local food banks will probably have references.
Go to your local malls starting this month and ask at an information kiosk if they are going to have a gift tree and get your name in.
Local television stations often have some sort of gift program. Keep an eye out and a paper and pencil ready to take down numbers or sources starting now. Tell the older family members to take down numbers. They may have help listed on their websites.
Call your local Adult and Family services and say you'd like to know where to find such help. You don't have to be getting aid, they just tend to know where everything is.
Large churches might be worth a call. Sometimes they do an adopt a family thing.
Food 4 Less stores also offer an entire dinner for about 4-5 for around 20-25 dollars during Christmas and I think Thanksgiving. Sometimes if you get a good deal you can get 2 turkeys at Thanksgiving and have one already for Xmas which saves you money for something else. (10/07/2009)
By PENNY K
Start calling all the churches! (10/07/2009)
My grandmother is a Lion. Meaning she works for the Lions those who take care of (the blind). They do have a lot of good buys for Christmas trees, at like 5 dollars a piece or less, you can find a lot of great buys for 1-5 dollars during the summer time. They also have Christmas in July specials at our local branches so I'm sure they'll have something of that nature at yours. Try any organization like that. Also, I'm sure they'd love to help low income families or try to steer you in the right direction. Don't be afraid to just ask those organizations! (10/09/2009)
Oh Craig's lists is another, they have free things out all year round, might find a tree in one of those. (10/09/2009)
I'd start with your local Information and Referral hotline. My local area has the 211 service number, but I don't know if that's in all areas yet. They should know who's most likely to be able to help. Be sure to write down all pertinent info!
If you attend church, your own church family is more likely to help you than any other; you might branch out from that starting point.
Be aware as you check around that demand is particularly high this year. The earlier you get your name in, the better chance you have of getting help. Be as specific as possible in stating your situation. That will help the group in question know best how to help your family.
Don't be deceptive and say you're not getting help if you know you are.
However, if you accidentally wind up receiving help from more than one group, be thankful! Some of your "excess" can either help you through the next few lean months, or might help a friend or family member who was unable to get help for whatever reason.
Last but certainly not least, do *not* be ashamed of being in financial straits. As in the Great Depression, "it's tough all over". My elderly hubby and I (I'm visually impaired) have relied on benevolent assistance the last two or three years to have a decent holiday season. We didn't need the toys younger families would, so the groups who assisted us were able to concentrate on household items and food. It was nice to receive one small gift, though I'm still a kid at heart! (10/11/2009)