(DailyDig.com) – Christmas is an exciting time of year. However, for lower income families, it’s often the case that Santa passes their chimney by. Getting fun gifts for your children is a challenge at the best of times, and 2022 is not the best of times for many of us.
Here are some places low income parents can find gifts for their children for free:
Toys for Tots
For 75 years, Toys For Tots has been giving toys to less fortunate children. They accept donations of toys and cash from better off families. Families can apply to receive a toy from their local campaign. Rules may vary and not all locations are covered. For example, some chapters only allow you to apply for toys if you have not received help from anyone else. Deadlines to apply also vary.
The charity only accepts new, wrapped toys and you can typically select a toy from the donations that your child would like.
Be an Elf
Another long standing program is run by USPS Operation Santa. Children and adults can write letters to Santa asking for gifts. If you are struggling, you should add a letter about why to your child’s letter. Many people ask for necessities, not just extra gifts, things like a warm jacket or new shoes. You still need to add postage.
The letters are then adopted by volunteers who purchase and send the gifts. Smaller gifts are more likely to get a response than expensive things such as an X-Box. There is no guarantee that the letter will be adopted, of course.
This program is run by the Salvation Army and Walmart. You apply for your child to be part of the program (they require that you don’t request assistance from anyone else), and your child puts together a wish list.
Scannable tags are then put on angel trees inside Walmart stores, with an online option, that allow volunteers to purchase gifts, which are then distributed by the Salvation Army.
This is another volunteer-dependent program, so also has no guarantees that the items will be received. Lower priced items are more likely to be purchased.
Many churches also run toy drives. It’s worth checking with local churches to see if they are doing anything that might help you and your child. It’s also common for churches to provide food boxes that can help with food insecurity, or just some extras for Christmas.
Some churches are affiliated with Catholic Charities and they often get money to help people out. Sometimes other religious organizations might also help in their local community. In most cases, you don’t have to be a member of the church’s congregation to get help, but going to your own church first will often result in a higher chance.
Clothing and Furniture Banks
In addition to clothing as gifts, clothing and furniture banks sometimes receive donations of toys around Christmas time. (They may also receive donations of unwanted toys right after Christmas). You can contact local banks to find out what they might have in their inventory and can often select what you want. Some charities may also give vouchers you can spend in regular stores.
If your community has a Lions Club, then they may do a toy drive. This is another one where you need to check locally. Boys and Girls Clubs also sometimes do toy drives.
Lastly, Freecycle sometimes has second hand toys and outgrown clothes available. The network is designed to connect people who are trying to get rid of unwanted items with people who would find those items useful as a way to help the environment. You are more likely to get toys for very young children this way as they are typically items kids have grown out of.
It is absolutely possible to find free Christmas gifts if you are struggling. Check out these options to brighten your child’s Christmas.
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