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Free holiday programs in Des Moines and Polk County Iowa.

Several charities as well as churches can provide low income families with free Christmas or Thanksgiving assistance ranging from toys to food baskets or hot meals. There is also free Christmas gifts or presents for children, including Toys for Tots, clothes, as well as other items. Senior citizens in Des Moines as well as Polk County Iowa may even be able to have a meal delivered to them. The non-profits have limited resources, and if they can't help during the holiday season, then referrals may be provided.

The terms and conditions of each agency can vary, but most of them collect donations from the community and volunteers also contribute. Based on this, what may be provided to the less fortunate can be free toys, games, clothing, gift certificates, Legos, games, books, Thanksgiving turkey dinners, matchbox or hot wheel cars and more. The application period will usually be during the fall months.

Providing holiday food baskets to the low income and homeless in Polk County Iowa is another priority. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, members of the community can stop by a free soup kitchen near them or feeding site for food. There may be baskets passed out, or a hot meal served, such as a Turkey with all the toppings.

Bethel Mission
Location - 1310 Sixth Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50314. Call (515) 244-5445
This is one of the agencies that will serve a free hot meal in Des Moines. It is available to people regardless of their religion, and seniors and the disabled may be able to have a meal delivered to them. There is assistance at Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas time, but there are deadlines to order a meal.

Glenwood Resource Center
Address is 104 Lacey St, Glenwood, IA 51534. Telephone number is (712) 527-4811
Christmas assistance is for the disabled.

St. Joseph Catholic Church, located at Eastside Cluster of Churches
3300 Easton Boulevard, Des Moines, IA 50317. Telephone number is (515) 266-2226
Delivered are available in some cases. However, they mostly have free Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to the needy and working poor. Children may receive small gift or present at Christmas too.




St. Vincent De Paul Society - Polk County
1426 Sixth Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50314-2801. Telephone - (515) 282-8327
The program they run is known as Operation Santa Claus. Children may receive free toys, gifts, and games. They cover all of Polk County, and also partner with other agencies and charities in the region too.

Urbandale Food Pantry
Main address is 7611 Douglas Avenue, Urbandale, Iowa 50322. Phone number is (515) 251-6688
Holiday food baskets and toys may be provided to people in Urbandale and Windsor Heights. The charity focuses on those areas only.

West Des Moines Human Services
Main address is 139 6th St, West Des Moines, IA 50265. Call the center at (515) 222-3660
Free toys and games may be offered for children at Christmas. Other services include meals, visitation for the homebound or individuals in a nursing home, and other support.

Polk County Free Toys for Tots
This free Christmas gift program helps thousands of kids each year in the Des Moines area. Volunteers and donations of games, books, trucks for boys, dolls, and more are collected by this Marine Corps affiliated organization and then given to kids. There may be video games or systems, chrombbooks, tablets, Legos, and many other free Christmas gifts. Find how to apply.

Salvation Army
The centers will offer Angel Tree in Polk County and similar programs, such as Adopt a Family. Toys, gifts, and games may be passed out to needy children. They also serve the working poor, low income and homeless free Thanksgiving dinners and more. There are multiple centers, but two of them are as follows.

  • 1400 NW 100th St, Clive, Iowa 50325, main phone number is (515) 282-3599
  • Address is 1216 E 25th Ct. Des Moines, IA. Telephone - (515) 266-3156

Des Moines Community Action
2309 Euclid Ave, Des Moines, IA 50310. Phone: (515) 323-8950
They administer a number of low income programs, and they may include referrals to holiday services. Get financial help for bills, free holiday food boxes, games, books and other support in Polk County. More on Community Action assistance programs in Polk County.





Bidwell Riverside Center​
Location  is 1203 Hartford Ave, Des Moines, IA 50315. For registration, dial (515) 244-6251
They operate a holiday toys drive. Registration way in advance is needed. It is part of an adopt a family service. Free clothing, shoes, games, books, dolls or trucks and other Christmas toys (based on donations from Polk County community) may be offered.

Two other charities for free toys include Fourmile Community Recreation Center at 3711 Easton Blvd. (dial 515-248-6315) as well as Pioneer Columbus Community Recreation Center at 2100 SE 5th St. (dial 515-248-6316). Both are part of the Toys for Tots, and they accept applications and also serve as a pick up location. Qualified, low income, unemployed, single moms or struggling parents can register for what they need. Games, toys, gift cards, shoes, and so much more.

Urbandale Community Action Network
4103 72nd St, Urbandale, IA 50322. Phone: (515) 278-3936
They help both low income families, the disabled, elderly and others in Polk and Dallas Counties. An Adopt a Family assistance programs is run.

Caring Hands Outreach Center
Food pantry and clothing closet address is 201 9th St NE, Altoona, Iowa 50009. Phone - (515) 967-4533
A free food pantry with Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas food baskets. There may be meats, turkeys, and more. Children may be given small stocking stuffer gifts or toys too.

Hope Ministries
Location is at 3333 East University Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50317. Telephone number is (515) 264-0144
Free Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas food boxes, groceries, and meal services.

CFI of Iowa clients only
Address is 1111 University Ave., Des Moines, IA 50314. Call 515.288.1981
They have a Christmas Store and Adopt a Family program for clients only. Get household items, gift cards, Christmas toys for kids, dishes and other goods. Or get soap, detergent and other goods for the holidays.


By Jon McNamara














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