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Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis County free holiday assistance.

Low income families can get help at the holidays, both Christmas and Thanksgiving, from many agencies in the North Country of New York. There are free toys, holiday food boxes, meals, and much more for the counties of St. Lawrence, Jefferson, as well as Lewis, with many assistance programs focused around the city of Watertown.

Donations and volunteers help hold toys drives in the region. What is collected is then given to qualified families, single parents, and others with young kids. Generally a child under the age of 15 down to the age of newborn can get a free Christmas toy, game, or book. There may also be winter attire, hats, boots, gloves, and more passed out to kids.

Another focus of counties, including Jefferson and St. Lawrence, is on offering food. Therefore free turkey dinners may be served as well as Christmas meals, with most being done at soup kitchens. Or the groceries and ingredients may be passed out too, and most children also get a small Christmas gift with their meal.

Lowville Food Pantry
7646 Forest Avenue
Lowville New York 13367
Telephone - 315-376-7431
They are a member of the Christmas Sharing program. Senior citizens and low income, at risk families are matched with donors for free Christmas gifts, toys, games, and food boxes.

Community Action Planning Council of Jefferson County (CAPC)
Location is 518 Davidson Street
Watertown NY 13601
Main number is 315-782-4900 x271
Christmas and Thanksgiving help is offered as part of Holiday Angels. There are multiple application sites in the region, including Jefferson County. Free Christmas presents, books, and more is given to children.





Salvation Army of Ogdensburg and Saint Lawrence County
Main address is 401 Franklin Street
Ogdensburg New York 13669
Toys for tots is run from here. Thousands of kids (boys and girls) may get free stuff from this holiday service. It is based on donation levels to the USMC support program. There may be games, dolls, electronics, computers, shoes, and many other toys passed out to the needy.

Potsdam Holiday Fund covers residents in Jefferson County as well as Lewis County and St. Lawrence County, so all of the North Country.
Low income families, the working poor, and senior citizens can get help. Free winter boots, Thanksgiving and Christmas meals or gifts, toys, and other supplies are passed out. Applicants need an income below 185% of poverty guidelines. Applications are at

Church and Community Program
Main address is 7 Main Street
Canton NY 13617
Each year up to two free toys and clothing items are passed out to kids. The parents need to have a low income. The program is known as the Giving Tree. It is for families in Clare, DeKalb, Hermon, Town of Canton, or Russell or the Village of Rensselaer Falls, Canton, or Hermon.

Watertown Urban Mission
Main address is 247 Factory Street
Watertown New York 13601
Various emergency assistance is given, including to military families. There are gift cards, vouchers, and rent/heating bill help. Other goods include free school supplies as well as assistance at Christmas. The distributions are seasonal. More on assistance from Watertown Urban League.

Toys for tots in North Country
This is the major program in the region. Thousands of children from struggling, poor, or single mom-dad led homes get help. There are collection points in many cities, and all the toys (which are unwrapped) will be given to children for free. Call the United Way at 211 for intake and application sites.

Saint Lawrence County Community Development Program
1 Commerce Lane
Canton NY 13617
Business Line: 315-265-3920
Assistance programs, both for the holidays and year round, include a free food pantry, budgeting, and energy bill help. Those resources, when combined with Thanksgiving meal, Christmas toys, and other holiday support is great for struggling families. The goal is to fight poverty and spread holiday hope.
There are also multiple intake and application sites. They include Ogdensburg 315-393-5561, Potsdam 315-265-3920, Colton 315-262-3175, Massena 315-764-0050, Pierrepont 315-386-8311, Parishville 315-265-6180 as well as Gouverneur 315-287-3370.




Salvation Army of Watertown
Location is 723 State Street
Watertown NY 13601
Intake number is 315-782-4470
A leading social service agency in the North Country and Jefferson County. Many programs are run. They include free turkey Thanksgiving meals from a soup kitchen; Angel Tree gifts for kids; holiday food boxes from the pantry; a thrift store. They also partner with Toys for tots to give free gifts to kids under the age of 13, including many veterans and military families.

Other agencies to apply at include Ogdensburg and Massena Salvation Army, Church and Community on Main street in Canton, The Hammond NY Library runs holiday programs, Fidielis Care in Gouverneur NY as well as Star Lake Elfs.


By Jon McNamara

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