Register early for seasonal assistance programs

There tends to be higher demand for assistance during certain seasons of the year. The key periods of time include at Easter, back to school season, Thanksgiving, as well as Christmas. Many low income families struggle to cover the extra expenses that they are faced with during those times of the year.

There are some organizations that will help, but you need to register early in the season. Almost all of these programs operate on a first come-served basis, and they also use donated goods to help the client. So this means any assistance that is available (if there is any) will go quickly.

Types of seasonal assistance

As noted, the demand really ramps up a few times per year. Most of the assistance is for kids from struggling families and/or the elderly. As the goal of most charities is to ensure the “most vulnerable” do not go without. That being said, the primary programs include the following.

During the February to April time-frame there is a large demand for help at Easter. The registration periods for agencies that offer this support may start as early as February. What can be expected to be obtained at this holiday includes an Easter basket for a child, some “relatively” healthy candy and/or snack type items, and maybe a meal basket too. Look into assistance from a food bank.

Then we move on to the summer-fall seasons, which is considered to be the back to school shopping period for many. As any parent knows, buying new clothes that fit, shoes, supplies such as backpacks, etc. is expensive. It is extra challenging as what a student had last year they may have outgrown or the styles changed so drastically. So the kid may not feel comfortable with the same old stuff.

Therefore there tends to be a wide range of school supply donation programs. Start to inquire into these programs and/or register as early as June. If the parent (and the student) is qualified they can be given free stuff for school, maybe hygiene type needs including a fresh haircut, gift cards, and much more. Locate many of the free school supply assistance programs.

Fall brings on Thanksgiving. As we all know, this is mostly a food focused holiday. But even with that being said, it is expensive to buy the food for this holiday. At the bare minimum, the cost of Thanksgiving may be as little as $60 for a family of ten, so about $6 per head according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Once again, that is the minimal cost. While most families try to budget during this season, it is hard to eat for that few dollars per person. So many groups help, including charities, churches, and others. They offer Thanksgiving food as well as meal baskets to people that register on time. Note some soup kitchens will also hold meal services to anyone in need; no registration required.

Last, but not least, is the Christmas season. Now this is the big one! There is food to buy, gifts and toys to give, transportation costs, stockings, decorations, and much more. While low income to moderate income families budget (like everyone else) it can still cost a lot of money as no kid should go without the joy of this holiday.

Therefore many charities, volunteer groups, and others hold some form of Christmas assistance program. They collect donations as part of programs such as Angel Tree or Toys for Tots. Then for those parents that register (which may be as early as September or October) they may be assisted. But the period to apply for help is limited to a small window; do not wait and register on time.

Many items may be given out. There may be free toys for Christmas, food baskets, meal services, and much more. Some groups including the Salvation Army also visit the vulnerable, such as a homebound person or a senior in a nursing home, in an effort to spread holiday joy.

There are also year round programs out there. These do not necessarily depend on a certain season. But rather a charity or even government agency may be distributing supplies such as clothes, furniture, household stuff, grants, and more as they are able too.  We also have a list of those, and find free stuff from any number of places.

So while each season varies in what may or may not be offered, it is critical to look into assistance early. If you wait and do not register on time then these charities will more than likely not be able to help.

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