Des Moines and Polk County free holiday programs.

When the holidays come around, several charities can provide low income families with free Christmas assistance ranging from food to meals and there is also the possibly of free gifts for children. Senior citizens in Des Moines 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, and more. The application period will usually be during the fall months.

Providing food 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 soup kitchen or 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
(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 711 South Vine
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 - Des Moines
1426 Sixth Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50314-2801
(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, Suite 34
Urbandale, Iowa 50322
(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 318 Fifth Street
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 Toys for Tots
This free Christmas gift program helps thousands of kids each year in the Cedar Rapids 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. 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. There are multiple centers, but two of them are as follows.

  • 520 35th St., Des Moines, Iowa, main phone number is (515) 282-3599
  • 1216 E 25th Ct. Des Moines, IA, (515) 266-3156




Des Moines Community Action
100 Euclid Ave
Des Moines, IA 50313
Phone:(515) 323-8950
They administer a number of low income programs, and they may include referrals to holiday services. More on Community Action assistance programs in Polk County.


By Jon McNamara

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