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Free holiday and Christmas assistance programs in Ocean County.

Low income Ocean County families can get free food, toys or gifts at Christmas or Thanksgiving. A number of churches and charities have holiday resources available to them. Get assistance during the holidays, including from Toys for Tots, the Angel Tree and Adopt a Family programs. Kids from families living in poverty or struggling households are giving priority. Find everything from free Thanksgiving turkey meals to video games, Legos, clothes, books and other Christmas presents.

When reviewing the list below, most of the churches or charities will only provide a meal (or free holiday food basket) to those that apply, such as at Thanksgiving. In some cases a child may receive a small gift, Christmas decoration or stocking stuffer as well. Another service generally offered will be volunteers from a church delivering food to a senior citizen in Ocean County.

Other charities tend to provide Christmas assistance. Children from low income households may be given gifts, toys, games, winter attire, shoes, jackets, and other presents. This too will depend on the work of volunteers from across the county.

Church of Epiphany
Main address: 615 Thiele Road, Brick, New Jersey. Call (732) 458-0220
A free Thanksgiving turkey Dinner is served once per year, with a local delivery to the elderly, disabled, or homebound.

Catholic Charities - Community Services of Ocean County
200 Monmouth Ave, Lakewood, New Jersey 08701. Phone - (732) 363-5322
Struggling families can get Easter baskets, Christmas gifts, Thanksgiving food and other help at the holidays. There are free Christmas presents or gift cards for single mother or dad run homes, immigrants, and the elderly in Ocean County NJ, among others.

Salvation Army
1738 Route 37 East, Toms River, NJ 08753. Call (732) 270-8393
Several programs are offered in Ocean County. Adopt a Family may give children free toys for Christmas, and Hearty Helpings serves Thanksgiving meals. The non-profit also operate Angel Tree, offers shelter, support to veterans, and other holiday as well as year round programs. More on Salvation Army Ocean County assistance programs.




St. Gregory’s Pantry - Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church at St. Mary’s by the Sea
804 Bay Ave, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742. Call (732) 892-8105
Assistance includes toy distribution as well as holiday meals. Referrals are needed from churches or Ocean County DSS.

First United Methodist Church of Toms River
129 Chestnut St, Toms River, NJ 08753. Dial (732) 349-8155 for reservations to the meal programs.

Saint Francis Community Center
4700 Long Beach Blvd, Long Beach Twp, NJ 08008. For applications, dial (609) 494-8861
Partnering with groups such as the United Way, the Gift of Warmth program provides presents, such as shoes, bedding, to children under the age of 19.

St. Martha Church
3800 Herbertsville Road, Point Pleasant, New Jersey. Call 732-295-3630
The poor, unemployed, and homeless among others can get a box of free groceries for Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas meals. There are also small toys or candy for kids, blankets, clothes for the holidays and small personal stuff.

Lacey United Methodist Church
203 Lacey Rd, Forked River, NJ 08731. Telephone number is 609-693-5222.
A Thanksgiving dinner with a turkey and toppings are served by staff.

Ocean County Toys for Tots
The application process depends on whether the family lives in the northern or southern part of the county. Dozens of charities, volunteer groups, and others participate. Free unwrapped toys, games, books, tablets, clothes and more are part of the USMC Toys for Tots program. There may be video or board games, Legos, babrbie dolls, Matchbox cars, decorations and of course clothes for kids from age 0 to 15.

Ocean County North area is covered as part of Toys for Tots. There is also cash assistance, groceries, and more. The Thanksgiving/Christmas meal program is available to the general public. There may also be stocking stuffers for children, toiletries, Clothing supplies, cleaning goods, and more.





Waretown United Methodist Church
27 Bryant Avenue, Waretown, New Jersey. Main phone -609-693-3134 or  732-773-4914
The charity, using volunteers, may have a free Thanksgiving food basket or voucher in Ocean County.

Saint Joseph's Roman Catholic Church
Location: 685 Hooper Ave, Toms River, New Jersey 08753. Call (732) 349-0018
Members of the church can apply for the Giving Tree. Holiday programs are run. There is help available at Christmas, toys for children, games, and a holiday party held too. Clients are the working poor and even homeless.

Southern Regional Middle School
75 Cedar Bridge Road, Manahawkin/Stafford, NJ. Call (609) 597-9481 or 609-276-5591
They only help current students. Thanksgiving dinners are served, with all the toppings, to students and their families.

Building on the Rock Community Church
89 Beckerville Road, Manchester, New Jersey, 08759. They help families in northern Ocean County. Call 732-664-3527 or (732) 657-7040
Girls and boys can get free Christmas gifts, toys, and holiday items. Some meals may be served too.

Sixth Street Baptist Church
Address is 15 6th St, Lakewood, New Jersey, 08701. Call  (732) 363-1377 or 908-591-4496

Pathway of Life Ministries
One location is at 2119 Whitesville Road, Bldg 2, Toms River, New Jersey, 08755. Phone: 732-901-7100
Both are part of the regional Toys for Tots program. Donations and money from the larger Ocean County community help low income parents, the poor, immigrants and others get gifts or free Christmas toys.

Saint Vincent de Paul of Ocean County
A number of churches participate. A thrift store, furniture, free winter clothes, and gift cards are combined with Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. There is a food pantry and soup kitchen. Small holiday or birthday toys, gift cards and other items are given too. Continue with SVDP Ocean County assistance programs.

Ocean Inc.
Location is 40 Washington Street, Toms River, New Jersey, 08754. Call 732-244-5333
They support northern Ocean County. Struggling families, veterans and others can get free holiday food baskets. There may be gift cards, toys, books, free Christmas presents and holiday events as well.

American Legion
Main address: 348 Carr Ave, Keansburg, NJ. Call (732) 495-1977 or 732-495-1977
A focus in on provide Christmas cheer to veterans in Ocean County and their families. The organization may give kids a toy, offer rides to the elderly, and provide presents to veterans in the hospital.





Overcomers Church
Mailing Address: 197 Locust Ave, West Long Branch, NJ 07764. Phone: 732-903-4289
Small Christmas toys, books, games, electronics, clothing, winter hats, and more may be given out for free at Christmas. There are also Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

Ocean Christian Community
Location is 405 Washington St, Toms River, NJ 08753. Call (732) 240-5998
They have a free clothing closet. There may be small toys (including at Christmas or birthdays). Or get winter coats, games, electronic and other stuff year round, including at the holidays.

Island Hts United Methodist Church
Location is 111 Ocean Ave., Island Heights. Call 732-929-0444
Meals are served a few days on each holiday. In some cases, a child may be given a small toy or gift at Christmas as well.

St. Thomas Church
135 Salmon St., Brick, New Jersey. Phone: 732-477-5533

Ocean County Sheriff Department
120 Hooper Ave.,, Toms River, NJ 08754. Call (732) 929-2044
They hold toy drives. Donations are collected throughout Ocean County, and the gifts are given (for free) to children that qualify. The application form can be obtained on the county sheriffs office website.


By Jon McNamara


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