The Lancaster Pennsylvania region is supported by several agencies that administer Christmas and holiday assistance programs. The primary programs, resources, and agencies to call for information or help are listed below.
Water Street Mission can help with the holidays, and primarily Thanksgiving. They accept applications for food boxes, perishable items and meals for Thanksgiving. Some of what they may require for eligibility includes a current photo identification, a current bill (such as utility) showing proof of address and identification for all household members. This and more may be required to sign-up for help. In addition, all applications are reviewed and screened, and approval for any Thanksgiving assistance will be based upon need and availability. Call this Lancaster non-profit at 717.393.7709 for more information. The sign up dates will usually be in October.
Pennsylvania 2-1-1 East is another resource that families can contact for information and referrals. The organization will compile and distribute a listing of free meal programs for both Christmas and Thanksgiving. The listing will normally be available to Lancaster families in early November and throughout the month of December. Other information may be provided on resources such as gifts and free winter coats for children. Much of the aid referenced will be free. Dial 717.291.5462 for updated holiday information.
The organization will also provide several holiday meals around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Most of the meals will be served to the needy at Water Street Mission’s dining hall, which is located at 210 South Prince Street, Lancaster, PA. Usually meal tickets will not be required in order to participate.
Ephrata Area Social Services provides information and resources for qualified low income residents in the Cocalico as well as Ephrata School Districts. Residents of these areas and their children may sign up for free or low cost holiday and Christmas assistance. The non-profit Ephrata Area Social Services, which is located at 227 North State Street, administers the programs using an onsite social worker. In order to learn more, call 717.733.0345.
Lancaster Salvation Army can help low income families, the working poor, seniors, and others obtain holiday assistance. Families in the region who are need of Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday assistance may either call or walk-in to the Salvation Army center, which is located at 131 South Queen Street, Lancaster. There they can obtain sign-up information and criteria. The program, and deadlines, will usually be set for the early November period. Phone 717.397.7565. Some of what may be offered includes the Angel Tree program, free gifts, coats for kids, and hot meals.
Toys for Tots is also administered by the Salvation Army along with the US military. It offers free gifts and toys for children.
Rockvale Outlets runs the “Share the Blessing”, which is a campaign that invites residents of the Susquehanna Valley and Lancaster Pennsylvania area to nominate families or individuals who are in need of extra care, cheer and attention during the holiday season. Nominations will need be submitted and reviewed, and recipients will receive extra care and attention.
The Lancaster County Project for the Needy focuses on meeting Christmas needs. The agency will distribute food boxes filled with items such as turkeys, groceries, and other perishable items for a complete holiday dinner during the week or so before Christmas. In general, no pre-registration is required; however it is important to note that the amount of resources available is limited. Therefore the giveaway of meals and food is offered as a first-come, first-served basis to the needy. Those interested in receiving a box should arrive early, and distribution usually begins at 8am. In the past the items have been distributed from Clipper Magazine Stadium or 650 North Prince Street in Lancaster Pennsylvania.
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