Christmas help from Salvation Army.
Salvation Army centers provide Christmas help to low income families, with a focus on households with children and the elderly. The assistance programs available from each location will vary, but there will almost always be some type of food or free gifts given during the Christmas season to the less fortunate.
There is never a cost to apply for a resource, and the help is provided for free to clients. The main programs from the Salvation Army are noted below, but some centers may offer different resources or call them by another name. In any case, almost every single one of the thousands of Salvation Army Family Service centers will offer some type of free Christmas assistance program.
This program provides businesses, charities, government agencies, individuals and others a way to give back to the community. How it works is a Salvation Army Angel Tree will be set up somewhere in the local community, such as a mall, post office or a school. It is truly a “tree”, sometimes artificial and sometimes real.
On the tree will be the names of kids who need toys, clothes, gifts, games; something to open on Christmas morning. The children will come from low income households in the community. They will have requested from the Salvation Army certain items. There may be certain types of clothes along with the size, general types of toys (such as trucks for boys, etc.), games, and more. The gift, as well as the first name of the child, is written on a paper tag on hung on the Tree.
Then a generous member of the community selects the name and gift off of the Angel Tree. They buy the item for the kid, drop off at the Salvation Army, and they match the gift with the child. Everything is given for free to the kids. Find more details on the Angel Tree Christmas program.
Salvation Army Adopt a Family at Christmas
Adopt a Family differs from Angel Tree in a few key ways. One is it just does not provide gifts/toys, but it can also include food, cleaning supplies, paper items, and more. Another key part is it is for the entire household, including parents, and this is where the free Christmas food often comes into play. Last, there is no physical “Tree” to select a name from.
Low income families need to register for the program. If found to be qualified by a local Salvation Army center, their name will be put into the system along with a list of items they need. Then, based on donations of Christmas food, stuff, clothes, etc. the charity will try to provide them with as much on their list as possible.
The donor in effect sponsors the entire family, both children and the parent. Or there may be more than one contributor. In either case they donate money, presents, and more. Or they can even give gift cards. Call a local center to apply.
Toys for tots from USMC and Salvation Army
Now this Christmas assistance program is often run by many charities, not just the Salvation Army. A local United State Marine Corps Representative organizes it. It is a free Christmas Toy donation program for kids under the age of 14. Donations from the community also keep the service running.
This resource is also not available in all communities like the other Salvation Army program are. It is mostly available in larger cities as well as counties. So, it is not commonly open for applications. The Toys for Tots program is effective at helping kids from all across the country.
Christmas food assistance
Since most Salvation Army Social Service centers have a pantry on site, they often provide free food to families. Some of them with soup kitchens will also serve a meal during (or around) Christmas each year. Both are meant to ensure every family in the community has a holiday meal.
This is often done in partnership with other charities as well as churches. As food pantries and soup kitchens partner together to hold Christmas parties, provide free groceries, ingredients for a meal, and more. Read more free Christmas meals.
Referrals from Salvation Army help at Christmas
This national organization is but one charity that low income or struggling families can turn too for assistance. There are many others that provide assistance, even to those individuals facing an emergency, in the form of free money, gift cards, toys, food boxes, and more. The Salvation Army Family Services Unit can provide information on them, as well as tips on how to apply. Learn more on free Christmas money programs.
Most of the Christmas programs do not duplicate services. Household can turn to only one agency at a time, whether that is the Salvation Army or some other charity. Call an organization to apply early, well before the holiday season begins.
Apply for assistance at Christmas
Salvation Army Centers are located in almost every single county across the nation. Select a state below for information on Christmas assistance in your area. Or a nearby county will support a region that is lacking. The application process for help at Christmas will vary, as will the deadlines. In all cases, be prepared with proof of total household income; residency; copy of identification; social security cards; birth certificates of children; and more. The holiday toys and presents go quickly, so apply early due to demand and limited supplies.
Applications for the assistance programs that are available at Christmas will start to be distributed in September. Some locations process requests up through December and others end much earlier. Apply for help at Christmas, including free toys, meals, and more, as soon as possible. To find a location, use the search bar at the top of the page and search for your county and/or town and be sure to also type in Salvation Army at the same time as the county. Or use the list below.
District of Columbia
Hawaii and Honolulu County