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Holiday Assistance for Struggling Families

A lot of people look for assistance at the holidays. Traditional holiday meals can be expensive and you may be hosting friends or family. Children's gifts can seriously stretch the budget as well.
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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.

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November 10, 20180 found this helpful

I could title this, "Why I Believe in Santa," I guess.

A long time ago, probably 30 years or so, our church would adopt several families at Christmastime, through a city organization that did the screening. We'd ask for lists of things that everyone wanted, and we'd put paper ornament stickers on a paper tree in the foyer. Each sticker would have a child's first name and age and something he/she wanted.

People would take a sticker, sign a form, and then deliver the gift unwrapped to the church right before Christmas. (I'm sure you're all familiar with angel trees.)

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Some requests were almost sad--things that most kids take for granted like school clothes or a warm coat.

Once all the gifts were returned, a group of people would wrap everything and make up the gift boxes, plus stockings stuffed with extras, and also a turkey or ham and things for a nice Christmas dinner. The families we adopted got a very nice Christmas.

A little girl who asked for a Barbie might get two in her stocking as well as one wrapped up. A young teen who dreamed of having her own phone extension got a Princess phone. The kids got clothes they asked for, as well as age-appropriate extra things.

On this particular year, a family with an only child, a 3-year-old girl, told us that she really wanted a "Talking Alf" doll. Unfortunately, those dolls cost about $75. The lady who was coordinating with the family told them that it might not be possible for that to happen, because of the expense, and they were understanding.

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I was in the choir at the time, so I didn't get out into the foyer until the tree had been picked over. There were very few stickers left, including the Alf doll. At the time, things were tight for us, and I'd planned to spend about $25 on the gift.

As I stood there, debating what to do, I finally decided that I couldn't bear to tell a 3-year-old that beggars can't be choosers, so I took the sticker.

I signed the sheet and didn't tell anybody except my husband. But, Santa was at work obviously, because word got out. People started coming up to me and handing me $10 here, $20 there. Even my agnostic friend gave me $10 to help out. Before it was over, I spent about $25 of my own money, just as I'd planned.

The little girl woke up to her Talking Alf, complete with batteries.

Some people tell me they don't believe in Santa, but I know better.

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