Joy on a Budget: Christmas Help for Low-Income Families

Christmas is all about making memories with family and celebrating the holiday season. Families create traditions that they happily practice year after year. Christmas and the holidays are about traditions that often involve food and gift-giving. 


Yet, for many low-income families, Christmas can be even more challenging than other times of the year. Typically, you spend more money during the holiday season, and if money is already tight, this creates real hardship and the need for Christmas help.


Thankfully, a variety of organizations work extra hard to offer Christmas assistance to families in need so everyone can feel the joy of the season in the same way. 


Read on to learn more about ways to get Christmas help if you are in need. 



Local Churches


Local churches are a great resource for low-income families in need, whether you are members of the church or not.


Part of their fellowship involves helping others. They seek donations from parishioners to help out those who have needs. Often church members will work together to sponsor families who need extra assistance. 


They also often have affiliation with other charitable groups, so if they can’t help you directly, they can connect you to someone who can help you.


Salvation Army


If you have been out shopping at all during the holiday season, you have seen the Salvation Army out with their bell ringers and red kettles. They take donations to use as part of the charitable programs. This is how the Salvation Army runs their Angel Tree program.


The Angel Tree program works to help children up to age 12 and senior citizens. They provide:


  • Free toys
  • Gifts
  • Clothing
  • Winter attire 

The Salvation Army operates in all fifty states across the US and most towns in all states. 


Toys for Tots


The US Marine Corps actively runs the Toys for Tots program. They collect new, unwrapped toys, then work to distribute them to children in need. 


The goals of this program are simple but special. They aim to give a child a new toy to bring them joy during the holiday season. That same joy can give them hope for the future too.


If you want to request a toy from Toys for Tots, visit their website and fill out an application.


Local Catholic Charities


Local Catholic Charities is another charitable group that can be found in most towns across the country. They also offer assistance to those in need at Christmas time. 


Many of the local chapters of Catholic Charities run their own thrift stores where they might give you access to free or discounted items for Christmas. They also provide Christmas gifts, vouchers for other charities, and money to help those in need during the holiday season.


Operation Christmas Child


The Christian organization called Samaritan’s Purse runs the holiday program Operation Christmas Child. The program is motivated by the adage good things come in small packages. They collect shoeboxes and then get donations to fill the boxes. Each box contains:


  • Toys
  • School supplies
  • Hygiene items
  • Apparel
  • Candy
  • A personal note

The boxes are filled based on a child’s age group to make sure they get age-appropriate gifts to open from their shoebox. 


Samaritan’s Purse is an international organization helping those suffering from poverty all across the globe. To get more information about Operation Christmas Child, visit their website


Lions Club


The Lions Club is another national organization that does extensive charitable work. The Lions Club has many local chapters, probably one in a town near you. They assist with eyeglasses, hearing aids, eye screenings, hunger, and childhood cancer support programs. 


At Christmas time, the Lions Club offers Christmas gifts to families who can’t afford to purchase them. Contact your local Lions Club to request assistance.


Make-A-Wish Foundation


The Make-A-Wish Foundation’s year-round mission is to help fulfill dreams and make wishes come true for children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants a wish to a child in the US and its territories every 34 minutes. 


They kick this mission into high gear around the holidays, working extra hard to make the wishes of kids between the ages of 2 and 18 come true. To seek their help in making a wish come true, you can call 800-722-9474.


Christmas Spirit Foundation


The Christmas Spirit Foundation aims to help get a Christmas tree to military families who might not otherwise have one. If you are a military family serving worldwide at Christmas, the Christmas Spirit Foundation wants to bring you a Christmas tree to celebrate the season, even if you’re far from home.


Prison Fellowship Angel Tree


The Prison Fellowship Angel Tree aims to help children with at least one parent in the prison system. With 1 out of every 28 children in the US living with a parent incarcerated, this organization’s role takes on even greater importance.


Volunteers from the organization deliver a holiday gift to the child of an incarcerated parent. The gift comes with a personalized note from the parent.


The gift also includes a message of scripture and also gives a bible to the child in either English or Spanish.


Local Schools


If your children are school age, one of the best places to start looking for aid is your child’s school. Schools often have clubs and organizations that work to help those in need during the holidays. 


They will also be a valuable resource to connect you with other area organizations that might be able to offer assistance. 


Contact your child’s school social worker or guidance counselor to let them know of your needs. Do this early in the holiday season as there are many with needs, and schools typically do their gifting early before holiday breaks. 


Free Cash


This option requires some planning. But it’s a smart option to start now and get the benefit for the next holiday season. 


There are a variety of companies including Ebates, Fusioncash, Swagbucks, and Inbox Dollars, that offer cash back through their websites. As you use their discounts throughout the year, you earn free cash you collect at the end of the year. 


You can also earn some Christmas cash by participating in survey opportunities offered by companies like Survey Junkie.


Free Christmas Trees


In addition to the Christmas Spirit Foundation, some organizations will give you a Christmas tree if you can’t afford to buy one. For many low-income families, there is no money to spend on a tree that will be discarded a few weeks later. 


One group worth noting is The Christmas Tree Project. Not only do they deliver a Christmas tree to families in need, but they also bring lights and decorations too. 


The Christmas Spirit Foundation is a national organization working in states across the country.


Energy Assistance


While you might not ask for or need help at other times of the year, often the holidays will stretch you to a breaking point in covering the basics. This might include paying your energy bills. 


The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LIHEAP helps you cover those energy bills. If you live in a cold state in the winter, they provide money to help with heating bills. If you live in a state where you need cooling, they help to cover those costs too. 


Don’t want to wait too long to apply. Plan ahead with your application in anticipation of needing help; even applying in the summer is a good idea so you’re in the program before you’re really feeling the crunch of the holidays.


Local Food Banks


Low-income families can take advantage of the local food banks in their community. Food banks will allow you to visit and pick up food supplies based on your family’s size throughout the year. 


Extra food assistance is also offered during Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays Food banks will put together whole holiday meals for those in need believing every family should have food and a special holiday meal to celebrate with.


Get Christmas Help to Make Your Holiday Bright


The Christmas season should be a special time of year for making memories and enjoying your family. Yet, for many low-income families, it is a time of even greater worry and stress. 


There are many sources for Christmas help for those in need. You just need to reach out to the organizations to seek assistance. 


If this article about Christmas help for low-income families was helpful, you may qualify for free wireless service through the federal Lifeline program. You can check your eligibility now by clicking here.