Christmas Charities for Low Income Families

If you need help paying for Christmas, here is a huge list of charities that will assist you.  Some programs are designed for children, while others are designed to help out low income and needy families.  Listed below are some of the charitable organizations that offer assistance during the Holidays for people in need. 

NOTE:  If you know of another organization, please leave a comment and I’ll research them and possibly add them to the list. 


First Up - National Organizations


The Christmas Angel Tree – Salvation Army

This is a great charitable organization that offers help to low income families and those in need of some holiday assistance.  This is a need-based organization that offers gifts to underprivileged kids around the nation.  If you meet the guidelines, you can sign up for help and check out local locations of the Salvation Army.

The Angel Tree – Prison Fellowship Program

This group is a little different than most of the others on the list.  The Prison Fellowship Program is designed to offer gifts and the word of Christ to children whose parent(s) are incarcerated in prison or jail.  It’s a good program that brings a little spirit to kids that sorely miss a parent at the holidays.  You'll need to find your local Angel Tree contact to sign up.  As a jail guard, I can assure you there are many children that could use this type of program during the holidays.

Toys for Tots

The Marine Corps runs this great organization that provides toys to kids whose families may not be able to afford them otherwise.  You can sign up for help from this organization if you meet the restrictions set for in the program.  You’ve probably seen all the donation centers as December approaches.  If you are in need of help, you may be able to get it from this organization.

Family Giving Tree

There is a special Holiday Wish section of this group.  While most donations are done in California, they are expanding beyond California.  While the organization does provide help all year, the holiday section is specifically designed for holiday wishes.  They started out giving out backpacks in 1990, but have expanded their services to include the holiday wish program.  You can contact the Family Giving Tree to get help.

Trees for Troops

This is a part of the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation and provides real trees to families with members in the military.  Based out of Missouri, the foundation does provide National assistance to those in need.  It’s a great organization that helps out during the holiday.  Every family deserves a nice tree!  This year they are teaming with FedEx to deliver the trees all over the nation.  You can contact Christmas SPIRIT for help.

The National Holiday project

The National Holiday Project is an organization that aims to brighten the lives of the needy through local chapters.  You can sign up for help with the charity and see what kind of assistance they offer in your area.

Operation Santa Claus

While you will not receive gifts or money from this group, your child can get a letter from Santa for the holidays.  This could easily brighten the eyes of any child that may not get much for Christmas.

Childs Play Charity

This is really unique.  Most states are represented through various children’s hospitals.  Each hospital makes a wish list of electronics “wish list” items for their patients.  Children that are very ill and in these hospitals are eligible to receive the items.  The site will let you find a location in your state.


Alphabetical Listings By State


  • Alabama

Huntsville Social Services offers Christmas help for low income households.  The food bank of north Alabama can help supply your holiday meal.  Christmas Charities Year Round Association serves the Madison County area.  Be sure to look for local programs, like adopt a family, held in area businesses.

  • Alaska

Project Alaska Christmas Kids (PACK) helps bring the holiday to needy children of the state if the form of books.  You can check for government assistance programs to find out what you qualify for and look into the Alaska Food Bank.

  • Arizona

The Association of Arizona Food Banks can help you get a great holiday meal.  Arizona Self Help is another organization where you can find temporary assistance.  Arizona Ghostbusters has done toy drives for the needy, as have the firefighters through Circle K Arizona.

  • Arkansas

Stuff the Sleigh provides a toys for foster kids through drives and a local car lot does a Fill a Ford toy drive for charity.  The Diocese of Little Rock provides help to those in need.  If you need help with the meal, the Arkansas Food Bank is ready to assist.

  • California

Child S.H.A.R.E has several locations in California.  Catholic Charities Of Los Angeles is known to help low income families.  Adopt-A-Family is popular in San Bernadino and Riverside Counties.  The LAFD also has a great program called Spark of Love, which is a toy drive for needy kids.

  • Colorado

The Denver Rescue Mission serves a large portion of the state and the Food Bank of the Rockies assists many people.  Denver's Care 4 Colorado toy drive has been a success.  You can also check for temporary help through the government, if you prefer.

  • Connecticut

New Opportunities Inc. has done many toy drives.  Redefine Christmas gives out many gifts and the Archdiocese of Hartford help many needy families.  You can also look at temporary assistance programs and food pantries for assistance with the holidays.

  • Delaware

As with most states, the Food Bank of Delaware is a great place to put together a holiday feast for low income households.  The Delaware Kids Fund holds toy drives and so does Service From The Heart.  Of course, you can always check the local government agencies to see what other options they have.

  • Florida

Those in the Jacksonville area can check out Jax 4 kids and those in the Clay County area can check out the John P Hall Sr. Children's Charities.  If you are looking for more help, check out the Latino Officers Association of Florida.  Toy drives are done by New Hope for Kids and government programs are available.

  • Georgia

Members of the National Guard in Georgia can apply for help from the Georgia National Guard Support Foundation.   Another group, Enrichment Services, offers all sorts of help for needy people all year, including the holiday season.  Residents of Georgia may also want to check out the Empty Stocking Fund or local food shelters and national organizations with branches in the area.

  • Hawaii

Project Hawaii Inc. presents the Christmas Wish Program each year.  Each year, the Friends of Hawaii provides grants to other non-profit organizations that assist residents.  Bikers hold the Maui Toy Run and free meals can be found at local food banks.  You can always check around locally for government assistance programs as well.

  • Idaho

Those that live Idaho can check out the Idaho Falls Community Outreach Center for help or visit the Idaho Food Bank for the holiday meal.  The Health and Welfare Toy Drive is very popular.  You can also check with local government agencies to see what types of holiday programs they have to offer.

  • Illinois

As with many states, Catholic Charities are prominent in Illinois.  The Walter and Connie Payton Foundation holds toy drives and so does the Illinois Association for Infant Mental Health.  Feeding Illinois may be able to help you with your meal.

  • Indiana

The Food Bank of Northern Indiana is a great place to look for help as is CAP from the Caramel Fire Department. or Columbus Firemen Cheer Club.  The government of Indiana can also help you with temporary assistance to needy families.

  • Iowa

The Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation is  a great place to start if you live in the area.  Another great opportunity lies with the Chrysalis Foundation.  The Food Bank of Iowa may be able to help you put food on the table for the holidays.  It might be a good idea to check with Catholic Charities of Des Moines as well as local government programs.

  • Kansas

The Johnson County Christmas Bureau helps needy families and so does Catholic Charities of Wichita.  Those in the Kansas City area may want to contact Adopt a Family.  Of course, many local businesses do toy drives and secret Santa programs that could be worth checking into.

  • Kentucky

The Frankfort Area Chamber of Commerce has a great list of charities.  God's Pantry can help out many hungry families during the holiday season.  Those in the Lexington area may want to check out firefighter toy drives.  Of course, you can always check out government programs for temporary help as well.

  • Louisiana

The Thibodaux Toy Drive is an annual event.  Catholic Charities of New Orleans is known to help others.  The Louisiana Food Bank Association might be able to help with a good meal.  Of course, there are many local businesses that participate in their own toy drives and secret Santa types of programs that you may want to look at.

  • Maine

You can find aid at Waldo County Wings of Love or the Maine Children's Home.  There are some temporary government assistance programs that deserve a look.  If you worry that you won't be able to put together a good holiday meal, you can always try The Good Shepherd Food Bank.  If you are looking for toy drives, check out the Augusta Civic Center.

  • Maryland

Santa Claus Anonymous is based in Baltimore.   You can also try the Washington County Community Partnership of Maryland.  The Property Management Association is holding a toy drive again.  Local food pantries and government assistance programs are other options to keep in mind.

  • Michigan    

All Michigan residents can fill out an application for the Good Fellows Fund  and contact the Michigan Volunteers of America for help.   Residents have more opportunities through the Michigan Information Center and can attend a party through the Joys of Jesus Ministries.

  • Minnesota      

Christmas Anonymous is based in Rochester and can probably help you.   You can also try Toys for Joy in the Saint Paul area.  Second Harvest Heartland might be able to help you out with the meal.  Of course, as with many states, the Catholic Charities of the Twin Cities area may help.  be sure to check out local sources for toy drives and temporary assistance to needy families.

  • Mississippi

Those in Mississippi will have some great options as low income families look for help.  The Good Samaritan Centers of Jackson and Laurel offer nutritious meals.  The Jackson Diocese also give aid to people in need.  You can check the Portland Metro Toy Drive to see if they will offer you aid for gifts.

  • Missouri              

Christmas in St. Louis is a good choice for anyone looking for aid.  The Downtown Branson Main Street Association helps people in need each year.  Just like many other states, Missouri has a strong Catholic Charity representation.  The Missouri Food Bank Association might be able to help you out with your meal needs.

  • Montana        

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help with food for the holidays.   There are many other public assistance programs out there that can help as well.  There are some local businesses that participate in Angel Tree types of programs.  You may want to check with your local chamber of commerce to see what's going on this year.

  • Nebraska     

Catholic Social Services serves Lincoln and surrounding areas for holiday relief.  You may want to check out mid-Nebraska Community Partnership and 211, which can help you sign up for various holiday programs, like Toyland for Kids that provides toys to needy kids.  The Food Bank for the Heartland could help you eat for the holiday season.

  • Nevada 

The Norther Nevada Food Bank is a good start.  Those that meet low income guidelines may find aid from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services or the Catholic Charity group for the state. In both Reno and Las Vegas many casinos participate in various types of adopt a family programs.  The Santa Cop program serves the metro Las Vegas area.

  • New Hampshire

The Emergency Food Assistance program is a great place to get your meal for the holiday season.  You may also want to look at New Hampshire Catholic Charities for assistance.  If you require a monetary donation or that of clothing, you may want to try New Hampshire SHARE.  Of course, there are many other local businesses that donate to the needy, so check around.

  • New Jersey       

Camden Rescue Mission Inc. is a charitable group that offers aid.  For one-stop shopping for aid, try New Jersey Helps.  The Borough of Kinnelon provides low income people with a Holiday food basket.  If you prefer, you can always check out the Community Food Bank of New Jersey for a meal.  Be sure to check out local sources for toy drives and secret Santa programs in your area.

  • New Mexico     

The Archdiocese of Santa Fé is a decent place to look for aid in area.  You can check out government assistance programs in your area for aid.  In addition, those looking for a good meal can try the New Mexico Association of Food Banks.  There are many local businesses and charities that do toy drives, adopt a family, and various forms of the secret Santa programs.  

  • New York

The New York Department of Temporary Help is a great first step.  New York City residents can also contact Hope for New York for aid.  You can always check out local sources for toy drives and Adopt a Family types of programs.  You can post your situation on Two Hands and see if someone will give you some help.  If you are looking for something to put in your belly, try the Food Bank of New York City. 

  • North Carolina  

You can try Speedway Children's Charities in Charlotte or Christmas cheer in Alamance county.  You can also contact the Kernersville Foundation for aid with stocking stuffers.  As with many states, food is available to North Carolinians through local food banks.  Check the newspapers or call your local chamber of commerce to find out if anyone is holding toy drives this year.

  • North Dakota

Using help programs like North Dakota LIHEAP can free up some money for toys.  The Great Plains Food Bank will help with meals.  For those looking toys, the Farm Service Agency does an annual toy drive.  For other toy drive options, check with local businesses.  

  • Ohio     

Kids can get a free toy from Mrs. Claus and families can get the fixings for a great meal at Freestore Food Banks.  Those in Cincinnati can get aid from The Caring Place.  Those in Fairfield can try 211 to get financial help.  As with many local areas, you will want to call your chamber of commerce to find out if they know of any local businesses holding toy drives.  You may also want to look at some government programs to help.

  • Oklahoma

The Regional Food Banks of Oklahoma can assist you with your meal.  The Christmas Connection is a great place to look for help.  Catholic Charities are strong in Oklahoma City.  Oklahoma has programs for temporary help.  TheScience Museum of Oklahoma holds toy drives.  You can look for other toy drives and adopt a family programs through local businesses.

  • Oregon

The State of Oregon Food, Cash, and Housing Program can offer temporary aid.  The Elk's Loge of Myrtle Creek, and The Christmas Project in Hood River also good places to look.  Of course, you can always check with businesses in your  area to find out if they are doing toy drives or secret Santa types of programs.

  • Pennsylvania    

Second Chance Toys is a good organization to call for help.  You can always check for help with the meal through the Pennsylvania Regional Association of Food Banks.  Catholic Charities is pretty strong in Pennsylvania.  You can also look for temporary government assistance.  You can check locally to see if businesses are having toy drives and secret Santa programs.

  • Rhode Island     

Total Fitness Clubs in Rhode Island do toy drives for the poor.  If you need help putting together a decent holiday meal, try the Rhode Island Community Food Banks.  Many local businesses and civic groups participate in adopt a family, toy drives, and secret Santa programs for the indigent.  Rhode Island is one of the top donating states for Toys for Tots, so you should have some luck.

  • South Carolina

Those in South Carolina can try Holiday Hope for some aid or Hope Worldwide in the Columbia area.  You may want to check out the list of South Carolina Food Banks for help with a decent spread on the table.  Just as many other states, South Carolina has temporary assistance programs that could offer financial help.

  • South Dakota    

The Banquet of Sioux Falls offers a great meal to locals.  Those in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation have received donations from St. John's.  In addition, you can try Catholic Social Services for aid.  Many local main street associations do toy drives and adopt a family types of programs as well.  In addition, you may want to explore government emergency aid programs.

  • Tennessee    

The Nashville Metro Police Christmas Charities are sure to have a program for you.  The News Sentinel Charities Incprovides help as does Youth Encouragement Services.  Second Harvest of Middle Tennessee could help you put out something great to eat.  You may want to also check out local government assistance.  Be sure to check with local civic groups as well for more help options.

  • Texas   

Gullo Christmas for Kids provides a party, gift cards, and Xmas decorations.  You can also try Houston Children's Charities for some financial assistance and The Christmas Bureau of Austin.  If you don't have luck with food banks or other programs, you can try Alvarado Christmas Charities Inc for more help.  Be sure to check with your local chamber of commerce to find companies performing toy drives.

  • Utah

The Arc of Utah (no website) provides gifts through donations for needy kids.  The University Mall Giving Tree is yet another option and The Forgotten Patients Christmas Project also fills the needs of sick children.  You may want to explore the Utah Food Bank system to find help with meals.  You can also look into government help offered by local branches.

  • Vermont    

Get gifts at Toys for Kids of Vermont.  The Vermont Hunger Relief Organization offers help to those in need andVermont 2-1-1 can assist with living expenses, like utility bills through the holiday months.  Be sure to look for help with food through local food pantries and check local companies that are promoting toy drives for assistance.         

  • Virginia

The Virginia Department of Social Services is a good place to start looking for temporary aid.  The Community Partners for Children in Alexandria is another good option.  The Diocese of Arlington is a good option for those in the area.  You'll find several local toy drives where you can ask for donations to provide gifts for your children.

  • Washington       

You can ask for assistance from the Christmas House charitable organization. You can also talk to the Tacoma Firefighters Christmas Project and see if they are able to provide you with some help.  For help with putting a nice spread on the table, try looking at the map of food bank locations.  You may want to look locally for toy drives, Angel Tree types of programs, and local secret Santa charities for assistance.

  • West Virginia

You can contact Catholic Charities of West Virginia for aid during the holiday season.  You can try Presents for Patients for those that are ill and need some Christmas spirit.  You can check out a list of West Virginia food banksfor help putting together something good to eat.  Of course, you can always look at local government assistance or contact companies in your area and ask to be included in adopt a family and angel tree programs they might be coordinating.

  • Wisconsin

Kenosha Christmas Charities, Inc. is a great place to look for help.  Catholic Charities serves ten counties in Wisconsin and The Neighbors' Place serves the Wausau area.  Wisconsin has many food banks throughout the state that can help you eat well for the holidays this December.  Many main street associations and civic groups are located in the state, so be sure to contact them and ask for aid.

  • Wyoming

Those in the Cheyenne may want to visit the GFWC website.  You may want to contact Toys for the Troops' Kids if a parent or guardian is in the armed forces.  The Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies could be a great place to look for something good to have for dinner.  The Department of Family Services could also be a good place to search for some help.  Be sure to sign your family up for toy drives and adopt a family programs in your area.


Additional Local Options


In many instances, looking locally may be the best option you have when you are looking for charitable help with gifts or other items for kids.  Listed below are some of the very best options you may have available in your area.

Goodwill Industries

Donations from Goodwill Industries are offered on a case-by-case basis.  If you are in need of help, go into your local Goodwill store and ask for assistance.  These are material gift donations only, not cash.  You will have the possibility to get some used clothing, toys, and other items that could come in very handy.

Food Pantries

Every family deserves a good meal for Christmas.  Many local food pantries give out free food, often only asking for voluntary donations.  In some areas, they are open to everyone, not just low income families.  This is a really good option to keep in mind.

Local Civic Groups

Do you have an Elk’s Club, Jaycee’s, or other civic organizations in your area?  If so, you may be able to sign up for help from these groups.  It’s worth a try.

Local Churches

Even if you aren’t a member of the congregation, you may be able to get some form of Christmas help.  Many churches help out low income families in one way or another during the holidays.  Your best bet is to visit them in person, so you can present yourself and your situation.

Local Toy Drives

We’ve all seen the many businesses that have the needs of specific children listed or hanging on the tree.  When you find the businesses offering this type of service, be sure to stop in and ask how you can sign up for help.  It would also be a great idea to watch the local paper for toy and food drives at Christmastime.


Want to see something added?  If you know of a charity that offers Christmas help for low income families in your area, post a comment and I'll add them to the list.