The holiday season can be bittersweet for some people. If you’re missing loved ones or struggling financially, you may not really feel the holiday cheer that gets advertised in commercials and movies. One of the biggest financial stressors around this time of year involves buying Christmas gifts. To help relieve this burden, there are plenty of Christmas gift assistance programs that will donate gifts to families in need.
Some of these programs are led by non-profit organizations while others are from government agencies. Families may need to apply for Christmas Gift assistance programs but each option listed in this blog post is different.
Here’s where you can start.
The Salvation Army is an international charity created by the Christian church and it’s very well-known in most communities. This organization provides veteran services, after-school programs, disaster relief, rent and mortgage assistance programs, and more. Their Angel Tree program puts new clothes and toys under the tree for 1 million children each year.
Anonymous donors purchases gifts based on what families need for their kids. You can contact your local Salvation Army branch to see how you can sign up for their Christmas gift assistance program. If your application is accepted, you can then provide each child’s name, age, and a few gift ideas they’d like. Before Christmas, the Salvation Army will often host a free dinner event for the whole family where everyone can pick up their gifts.
For the Angel Tree program, you may need a referral depending on where you live but sometimes this isn’t required. You can find the online application here. Be sure to reach out to your local Salvation Army by calling or visiting in person to learn more about signing up for this program.
Catholic Charities is another organization located throughout the country. They provide food, disaster relief, housing assistance and job training to the community. Some local family resource centers offer Christmas gift assistance programs to families in need.
For example, this Wisconsin-based branch of Catholic Charities has an online application for families who need Christmas gifts for their kids. Sponsors buy the gifts based on what you add to the application including each child’s clothes sizes. Once the application is submitted, Catholic Charities processes it and contacts families with a future date to pick up their gifts before Christmas.
Marine Toys For Tots
This is another major organization with many local branches all over. The Toys For Tots program provides new, unwrapped toys for children around the holidays. Each year, tens of thousands of toys get donated in most counties. You’ll need to apply online or contact your local charity office to get application details.
There is a form online to help you get started by selecting your state and county or city to see if assistance is available in this area. I searched my state and country to just see how it works and was able to find the online application and see more eligibility details.
Marine Toys For Tots is available for kids ages newborn to 14 years old. To register, you’ll need:
- Picture ID
- Proof of custody (birth certificate, school enrollment, social security card)
- Proof of residency (utility bill)
- Proof of child ID (photo ID, School enrollment form, school ID)
Make a Wish Foundation
Make a Wish Foundation helps provide resources to children with critical illnesses. If you have a child that qualifies or knows someone who does, be sure to contact the organization to learn more about their Christmas gift program and how it works.
You may not even need to apply especially if you are referred by someone. The great thing about this organization is that they also gift children with memorable experiences as well. So if your child always wanted to lead a local parade, for example, the organization might work to make this wish come true during the holiday season.
Wisdom Family Foundation – Christmas Wishes
The Wisdom Family Foundation is an organization with only two local chapters. This means they are not as widely available as other options on this list. Still, their program Christmas Wishes is still worth considering if you live in Northern Illinois or the Minneapolis area. This organization provides gifts like toys, games, clothing, books, and more.
The total cost of gifts won’t exceed $100 per child and sponsors get to send a personal note to the family.
Other Ways to Get Free or Affordable Christmas Gifts
Christmas gift assistance programs aren’t always a guarantee, but they are worth a try especially if you truly need the help and resources. Here are a few other ways to free or affordable Christmas gifts for your family.
Sign Up For Local Resources
There are tons of local organizations and charities that help families in need. Be sure to sign up for local resources in your area so you can be one of the first to learn about Christmas gift assistance programs that may not be widely advertised. Many programs require a referral so this means if you’ve signed up for resources through the Department of Human Services or something like a Head Start program, you could be one of the first to hear about the program or get recommended.
Stick to the 4 Gift Rule
The 4 gift rule is an excellent way to save money on holiday gifts and be more mindful about your spending. With it, you buy:
- Something your child wants
- Something they need
- Something to wear
- Something to read
Using these 4 gift categories makes things more simple and can take the pressure off you. In addition, it will help your kids truly cherish the items they do receive and not be distracted or overstimulated by tons of stuff.
Utilize Layaway Programs
See which stores offer layaway in your area and use them to pay for your holiday gifts over time. The key is to start early and stick to a budget. Make regular and consistent payments when you get paid so you can receive your gifts just in time for the holidays.
Summary: These Christmas Gift Assistance Programs Are Just a Start
If you’re looking for Christmas gift assistance programs in your area, you will find them. Also there are so many so this small list is just a start. Be sure to sign up for local resources and start applying early. Ultimately, improves the chances of getting selected for a gift sponsor.