The Holiday season should be a time of joy and excitement for children, regardless of their religious preference. Unfortunately, many children don’t have that experience. Usually that happens because of the economic difficulties that their families are experiencing. It’s a very sad day for most children who expect presents but don’t get them, especially since young children may still believe in Santa Claus and don’t understand why he didn’t come.
Virtually no one wants a child to go without so much as a modest gift and a holiday meal. To solve that problem, many local charities, working together or by themselves, try to make sure that every child has something to open on Christmas morning, and of course, that no child goes hungry. You may also be able to find local churches that take that type of initiative on their own, and the best way to find out who does so in your area is by calling as many churches as possible. You can also contact 211.
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army could very easily be one of the most well known charities. Their staff members will often be standing near the front of retail environments, asking for donations. In addition to their work with disaster relief victims, they also do some work helping with rent and utility bills, as well as help with holiday needs for low-income or needy families.
And yes, that means that in many areas, free Christmas presents are available to almost any family with children. You will probably be asked to provide certain information, and then to verify that information with written documentation. Don’t worry, for the most part, it’s pretty basic stuff, like:
1) Pay stubs to prove what your family has coming in each week or month
2) Proof of your address, like a rental or mortgage agreement, to verify that you live in the area that is being serviced by the Salvation Army you are applying with.
3) Birth certificates for the children in your household who will be receiving gifts
4) Any other information that is deemed necessary by employees at that particular Salvation Army.
As you probably know, it is federal law for services to be available for everyone regardless of gender, race, religious preference. That means that they may ask you if you go to church, but they cannot decline helping you based on whether or not you go to church, OR based on what church you attend. Again, they are within their rights to ask, but they are not allowed to have that information make an impact in on what is decided.
For more information and to find the Salvation Army near you that helps with free Christmas presents, visit their web site at: http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn_2.nsf.
Toys For Tots
Toys For Tots is a very well known organization in its own right. Subsidized by the U.S. Marine Corps, their goal, according to their website, is to “collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted”.
That means that if the time comes where you have extra gifts that are unopened and in good condition during the year, you could save them and donate it to Toys For Tots during those months. You would then have the comfort of knowing that it would go to a child that is somewhere in your area.
Toys For Tots has multiple locations all over the country, but they are usually very strict about deadlines. In addition, you may also notice that “the early bird gets the worm”, so you might want to apply with them as early as possible. Possibly because they are so well known, their services tend to be greatly in demand and they may run out of presents that are appropriate for your children if you wait too long. Just because they still have presents available, doesn’t mean that there are a lot of presents available for both genders and all ages.
If you need help finding a nearby Toys For Tots, or if you would like to see how you could start the application process, their website is: http://www.toysfortots.org/default.asp. You might also like to know that you can start the application process with a phone call, so you will not be asked to waste time and gas unnecessarily. It might also be helpful to remember that the majority of staff members who work to provide free Christmas presents are probably volunteers, so it’s not the best idea to get impatient if you have to wait a few days to get called back.
The Food Stamp Office
The office in your area that handles food stamps may also process free Christmas presents. This is very much on a donation basis, and to the best of my knowledge, is not something that is required by any state. However; you may be pleasantly surprised by the amount of gifts that are donated anonymously for dispersal to the most needy families.
For this service, you should apply as soon as possible after you realize that free Christmas presents will be necessary. You should be able to find out if they can help, or to see what you can expect, with just a phone call. There is not a lot of control over what is gotten in, and very little advance notice when something is dropped off, so asking first and going on some sort of waiting list will be your best shot.
However, because of the way things are handled at a food stamp office, it is probably not a good idea to pin all of your hopes on them. The last thing that any single mom wants is to have to tell her child that there will be no Christmas presents this year. It’s hard enough to have to tell your child that he or she will not be able to get the expensive gifts that they really want.
You may also be able to receive free Christmas presents from other agencies if you are currently associated with them. Some places you might not have thought of yet include:
1) Battered Women’s Centers
2) Women’s Advocacy Centers
4) Food Banks
5) Homeless Shelters
Although nobody should ever tell you what you can or cannot do when it comes to applying for free Christmas presents, I would strongly suggest that you apply with as many places as possible, unless one or more of the Charities forbids doing so.
Be sure that you understand what you are expected to do to make the process easier.
Additionally, make sure you clarify deadlines and when, as well as how, you will receive your free Christmas presents. Otherwise, prepare for a nice Christmas with your kids!