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Chicago free Christmas and holiday assistance, including Cook County.

Many non-profits and charities in Chicago Illinois operate a number of Christmas assistance programs and distribute things such as toys, free Christmas gifts, clothing, needed coats, and free meals or food. The charities work to ensure that no child, family, or senior goes without during the holiday season. The charities rely heavily on donations and participation from people in the Chicago and Cook County region and they try to assist as many residents as possible, including from the regional Toys for Tots program.

Chicago Uptown Ministry is a Chicago Illinois charity that offers gifts, toys, winter coats and food to the low income and poor. The programs relies exclusively on donations from the community. Nothing that you contribute will go towards administrative expenses. Some of what may be distributed is as follows.

Families will get free bags of groceries, including hams, turkeys, canned fruits and vegetables, and more.  Games, toys, and other gifts may be passed out by the ministry, based on donation levels. A wish list of needed items is also available. The address is 4720 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, Illinois 60640. Phone number is (773) 271-3760.

The Salvation Army is a leading non-profit for Christmas programs in both Chicago and nationwide. The main program is known as Angel Tree. It allows the non-profit to spread cheer and joy to the less fortunate and low income during the holidays. This also relies on donations, and whether you are a family, an individual, non-profit organization, church, business or club, you have the ability to make a difference by participating.

People can select a tag from an Angel Tree (which are set up around Chicago). Each tag on the tree represents the desires or basic needs of a real child. Participants then buy or donate the item requested. Through Angel Tree, children and maybe even entire families have their specific needs addressed so they can have a happy holiday season.




The tags are displayed on a tree, bulletin board or other public areas in Cook County. They may be at post offices, malls, or similar areas. Contact the Salvation Army as well for the location if need be. People can simply purchase a boots, new toys, gloves, outerwear, or whatever was identified as a need. Or purchase anything else that you would like to give to a needy child. Then drop off the items at your nearest Salvation Army center. Corporate sponsorship opportunities are also available around the city and county.

The Salvation Army also offers other holiday resources. Senior citizens and the homebound can have a free meal brought to them, as well as companionship of the driver. Thrift stores sell gently used clothing, toys, and household goods. Also, food pantries and soup kitchens across Chicago may free groceries or hot meals. To learn more dial 773-725-1100. Or find more details on Salvation Army Cook County holiday assistance.

Cathedral Shelter of Chicago provides holiday food baskets, mostly to the low income or very poor. The address is 1668 W Ogden Ave, and the non-profits number is (312) 997-2222.

Catholic Charities is another organization. One Christmas program they run is the Toy Shower. It can provide children the ability to experience the magic, joy and spirit of the holidays. Each child from a low income family will receive gifts and toys. They can be unwrapped in their original packaging. People from the community are encouraged to donate a toy or host a donation/fund raiser with your friends, family, or colleagues. (312) 226-0650.

Englewood Corps and Red Shield Center of the Salvation Army supports senior citizens. This may include meals and other assistance at Thanksgiving or Christmas. The center is based at 945 W 69th St., and is for more local families. Other social services may be provided for low income elderly residents in Chicago. The primary phone number is (773) 358-3260.





Another resource is known as Sponsor-a-Family. Catholic Charities in Chicago reaches out to seniors and lower income families who are most in need of help around the holidays. The agency and its partner churches will respond to their basic wishes for household items, clothing, books or even free school supplies. Hundreds of struggling, unemployed, and low income families from the region are generally enrolled into the program each and every year.

The Christmas Basket Program is administered by the Cathedral Shelter. The non-profit has assisted thousands of low income families and individuals. They have supported people across Chicago and have helped them celebrate the holidays. The Christmas Basket does more than help people celebrate holiday and Christmas season. It will also assist them with sustaining their daily efforts and help them contend with financial hardship by showing that others care about them. Once individuals know that others empathize with their struggles it can bring them just a little comfort around the holidays. Call 312-997-2222 to donate or get more information.

Grant a Wish
Location is 1136 E 93rd St
Chicago, IL 60619
Telephone number is (773) 731-7202
Several seasonal programs are offered. One is the free Christmas and holiday gift drive. They collect donated toys, games, books, and more and provide the items to low income families in Cook County. There are also food and school supply drives, in addition to those holiday programs.

Toys for Tots Program is a holiday program administered by the US Marine Corps. They also often partner with other non-profits, such as the Salvation Army. Donations of toys, money, gifts, and clothing may be offered to less fortunate families.

The non-profit will provide free Christmas gifts and assistance to children in the Chicago and Cook County region who would otherwise receive none. Free toys, gift cards, books, clothes, shoes, games, electronics and more is offered. There are donation sites across Cook County and the city of Chicago itself, and you can drop off toys or apply for help at the centers. The main contact is or Or learn more about Free Toys for Tots in Chicago here.

Dreams For Kids
820 W. Jackson Blvd, Suite 805
Chicago, Illinois 60607-3290
A number of free holiday events are held. Volunteers collect and pass out Christmas toys to needy children





Society of Saint Vincent de Paul operates thrift stores in the city and region too. While the charity may not have free gifts or toys, most of what they offer at the stores can be acquired at a reduced price. Many families of all income levels turn to this Chicago and Cook County Illinois organization for support. 312-655-7183.


By Jon McNamara

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