Holiday Help Programs
Every fall and winter, Americans coast to coast enjoy a string of national holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah see millions of Americans and international visitors gathering together, enjoying each other's company and the bounty of the table. Each year, millions of Americans simply cannot partake in these festivities due to financial difficulties or the hardship of a disability.
Whether it's due to poverty or illness, many Americans have a difficult time during the holidays. In 2015, over 40 million Americans were living in food-insecure households. Families that can't afford to spend money on Christmas struggle as well, as many low-income parents feel the pinch when trying to provide a spark of happiness to their children during this special season.
Despite what many believe, the holiday season is not the most depressing time of the year. Google's Misery Index, which charts the frequency of internet searches related to depression, finds that the negative emotions drop during this season. One reason for this is the surge in charitable giving that takes place around the holiday season.
Americans are routinely shown to be the most giving of any people around the world, and charity peaks during the holiday season. If you're struggling this holiday season, chances are you can find a significant amount of help during the fall and early winter holiday season. Local and state organizations are extremely active in helping low-income families have good food and presents during this time of year.
Where to Find Christmas Assistance
Christmas time means more than just meals - it also means presents. The Winter holidays result in a numerous number of toy drives for children and other assistance programs for families.
Large toy companies often have toy donations and toy drives of their own
. Large companies such as Hasbro
collect toys nationally for local distribution to children around the country. Many toy companies have charitable giving programs for the holidays. If you are searching for a specific toy, try contacting the toy company directly to see if they have donation programs.
Toys for Tots is one of the largest, oldest national programs around
. Toys for Tots gets particularly active during the Christmas holiday season as well. The organization's website even features a countdown to Christmas. Toys for Tots partners with several large businesses, such as Hasbro, Babies 'R Us, Toys 'R Us and Disney to help provide needy families and their children with Christmas presents during the holiday season and beyond.
The Salvation Army is well known for its Christmas Assistance program
. Donations to the Salvation Army go toward food, clothing, and toys for needy families. The program also emphasizes helping families with a parent in prison during the holiday season and for families with a loved one in the military overseas.
More Ways to Find Christmas Assistance
Finding assistance for Christmas and other special occasions takes a little time, but there are easy avenues to follow.
Do a simple web search
. You can use search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo to search for local food banks, Thanksgiving turkey drives or even toy drives. Online searches are also a good method for finding local food drives and connecting to local area nonprofits that specialize in providing meals to needy families year-round.
Call your local government
. Most local governments have a charitable arm or a department that specializes in helping connecting needy families to local charities. Many small charities lack a web presence, so you may not find them through a web search. A large number of charities or charitable programs are not annual and only occur once a year. There's a good chance your local government may know about programs that exist in your area, or even in your neighborhood; that would be difficult to locate otherwise.
Where to Find Thanksgiving Charities
One of the hallmarks of fall and winter charity programs happens at local food banks. Turkey drives are very common, as well as drives for canned food and other items. There are several national organizations set up to help families during Thanksgiving.
Feeding America has a database for those seeking local aid
. Feeding America has been operating as a national clearinghouse for donations since 1979. This organization is now one of the largest in the country, with its core mission to solve hunger in America. The organization has at least one distribution partner in every state, including Alaska and Hawaii
The Food Pantries website provides a helpful search for local pantries and soup kitchens
. This website exists for the sole purpose of helping those in need find local food banks, soup kitchens and non-profit organizations that fight hunger in the U.S. The database has several thousand organizations listed in its database, with more added regularly.
The Salvation Army provides Thanksgiving meal assistance each year
. The organization works to provides needy families with Thanksgiving meals each year. The organization focuses on low-income families and those with disabilities. Income is not a factor in this instance, as the organization will consider a family's needs on a case-by-case basis. Families looking for help are encouraged to call their local Salvation Army.
Search for local Thanksgiving food drives
. Most local food banks hold Thanksgiving donation drives. The season provides an extra bit of incentive for people to donate things such as turkeys and Thanksgiving-related canned goods during this time of year.
Struggling to put meals on the table and presents under the tree during the Holiday season can make any parent feel inadequate. However, thousands of organizations across the country exist to help parents provide for their children and themselves during this and every festive season.