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How can I Receive Christmas Charity?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 17, 2024
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It can often appear as if Christmas charity drives work in one direction only. Contributors rarely have the opportunity to interact with recipients of their gifts and financial support. That sort of contact information is usually held in confidence by the charitable organization itself. There are a number of ways social service and charity organization coordinate their efforts in order to distribute gifts to those with genuine needs. You can mention your need to your caseworker, if you're already receiving government assistance, or speak directly to charitable organizations to let them know about your circumstances.

Many social service organizations use existing family financial records to generate a list of those with true financial needs. If you're already in their system for various social welfare programs, you may want to discuss your financial needs with your assigned caseworker in private. The caseworker can make sure your name is on an approved list of charity recipients. Gifts received by the social services organization can be distributed equitably among those eligible for the assistance at Christmas.

A number of non-profit charitable organizations may ask potential recipients to fill out a few forms in order to determine eligibility for their particular programs. There may be income level restrictions, for example, or a residency requirement. If you do meet the charity's criteria for receiving holiday donations, then you should be told when and where to appear in order to receive your portion of the assistance. Private organizations do have the right to prioritize the distribution of donations according to their own criteria, however. Families with greater financial needs may be accommodated first, for instance.

Other charities simply ask that you show up in order to qualify. Soup kitchens, food pantries and other organized meal providers rarely require recipients to demonstrate financial need, for example. A family in need of a hot meal during the holidays can usually visit any of these organizations and receive service. Food pantries operated by a collective of churches may require proof of financial need for long-term participation, but Christmas meals are often excluded from such requirements.

One thing you can do to receive Christmas charity is to contact a number of local churches and non-profit social service organizations early in the year to let them know of your family's financial needs. The holiday season itself may be too chaotic for organizations to record that information properly. The Salvation Army, for instance, may ask needy families to register early for their Angel Tree gift program, in order for the charity's workers to have all of the information ready to go in December.

Above all else, remember there is no reason to feel ashamed when it comes to receiving Christmas charity. All of those donors look forward to the thought of a needy family or individual receiving a present under the tree, or enough financial support to pay for utilities or housing. Perhaps you will find yourself able to make a charity contribution in return in the future. Meanwhile, if you are eligible to receive some financial or material relief during the holidays, you have every right to pursue your options.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick , Writer
As a frequent contributor to WiseGeek, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Discussion Comments

By anon133684 — On Dec 11, 2010

I'm sorry for those who are sick. I will pray for your health, but do not despair because there are angels. heroes are real and someone has to listen. only have faith. God hears his children. God bless you.

By liztne61617 — On Dec 10, 2010

Merry Christmas everyone. So sorry to hear about your difficulties this year, I guess times are tough for everyone.

I have never requested help. I am usually on the other side doing the helping, but like everyone else I have a unique situation. I am a single mom, full time student and work very hard. I went through a very difficult divorce and ended up with the short side of the stick financially (no insurance coverage and court ordered to stay in Florida (away from my family in Tennessee which could give me much needed emotional support)).

In order to keep my 13 year old son, I had to choose to stay near his father. Even though he abandoned us. It is a control issue. But you have to do what you have to do for your children and was very blessed when my children were allowed to stay with me. My children are everything and we have worked very hard together to overcome any adversity.

Just when I saw a light at the end of the tunnel, here comes a crushing blow. I was diagnosed with an ascending aortic aneurysm. I have no insurance and am looking at a grim prognosis. I would like to visit my family for one more time. They don't know the severity of my situation, since I don't reveal it to them but I know I don't have much time.

This is the thing that John Ritter died from. I don't know what the next year will hold. I have no money to have the surgery and the only way I can get it, basically is to wait until it ruptures and pray to God I make it to the hospital. But from what I hear, an aortic dissection has a low rate of survival even if you make it to the hospital. You usually bleed to death before you make it there.

So I would love to reunite my family for one more time and give them a moment of all of us being together. My parents and one son are in Tennessee and I have the other two sons with me here in Florida. I would love to give them a gift of seeing each other. I have been scrimping and saving to see them but I have come up short. Since my divorce five years ago, my ex has controlled my financial situation so, there hasn't been a Christmas for us.

My kids understand and are so sweet. They have asked for nothing in the past five years and it breaks my heart due to our situation being not necessary. We are forced into this situation and have to wait until my 13 year old becomes 18 for us to move to Tennessee. That is a long time to wait and fight for food every day.

There are days when I don't eat so my kids will have enough food. I volunteer at my local hospital and would love to be a doctor some day and work at St. Jude in Tenn. This is my goal. But my health has really been declining and I am worried. I will never give up.

I am broken-hearted that my ex does not care if the boys and my parents have contact. Now, if I die what will happen to them? Does anyone know anyone who can help me? A thoracic surgeon, a hospital to do a heart surgery?

Does anyone know anyone who can help me see my family? I need to try to drive there but gas is so expensive. I might only make it half way. Please let me know, I would really appreciate it. sincerely Lisa. I live in Orlando, Florida.

By anon132552 — On Dec 07, 2010

My name is crystale. I have four kids and three grandkids. i got sick two years ago and i haven't had a job since, but i have been looking for work but with my sickness no one will hire me. Thank you and have a merry christmas.

By Crystal85 — On Dec 05, 2010

i have 3 kids and i need help for christmas. as of april, i have been financially struggling because my youngest child passed away. i was unable to sign my kids up for any help and i just want them to have a good christmas.

i know that christmas isn't about toys or gifts, but i want to see the smile on their faces. i wish they could open something to take their minds off of the loss of their baby sister. my fiance became unemployed and we lost our home and had to move in with family.

i just want to see their eyes light up and a big smile on their faces. If anyone can tell me where to get anything, please help.

By nikkik74 — On Dec 03, 2010

my name is nikki and me and my boyfriend have seven kids between us, three of whom we took in to take care of willingly because no one else would and we're trying to find help in our area but are getting turned down because no one helps out with teenagers.

our house is in foreclosure and i had to tell the kids there may be no Christmas, and I don't even want to put the tree up because it just makes it harder to deal with for all of us. Does anyone know of anyone who can help? i hate seeing everyone going through the same thing. the salvation army won't help because the kids are too old and they are out of funding.

this shouldn't be a time of heartache for everyone but that's what it has come to.

We are in illinois. if anyone knows of anything or anyone that can help us, please post. I hate having to ask for help but it's all about the kids, not our pride.

Sometimes we have to break down for them and that is all i am doing. i really hope someone has an idea for us and others asking for help peace and love to you all and thank you to those who respond.

By anon131385 — On Dec 02, 2010

anon54182: I am a 43 year old grandmother. i have 3 of my grand children living with me, ages 1,2, and 4. i have been turned down for en extension for my unemployment and have been without any income for four months.

i am looking for organizations to help us. i missed the toys for tots as i did not know about them until it was too late? any suggestions? I'm in charlotte, nc and really need some help in finding someplace to help us.

By anon131302 — On Dec 01, 2010

Momyof4, I so relate. My husband lost his job in June and we too have 4 kids. We both have been looking for jobs and have gotten so behind in bills, and we aren't able to get our kids Christmas either. Praying for you and your family that you have restoration and many blessings. Cling to Jesus, he will help us all through these hard times.

By momyof4 — On Dec 01, 2010

Well this is so sad. I'm trying to enroll my kids in some non profit organization, and I just read all these moms and dads who try the same and it is just so sad because we are in the same situation.

My husband lost his job in june and we are in a desperate situation. we have four kids-- one daughter she is 14, one boy of 10 and twins of two. We do not do drugs, drink, smoke, no nothing.

Today we received a letter to santa from our kids and just cry because this year won't be able to have a christmas tree, presents and no special dinner, because what we have, we need to make arrangements to can afford the whole month, and the question is what can we do?

By Aginter — On Nov 29, 2010

I was searching online for help with Christmas this year when I found this site. After reading the other posts I just want to sit down and cry for all of those who are struggling along with me.

I am a single mom of three boys. I just found out today that I will not receive an unemployment extension and have run out of funds. I was only on unemployment for three months. Why do some get unemployment for more than two years, but mine is done in three months?

I am resigned to the fact that my boys won't have gifts under the tree this year. I have tried finding organizations that donate, but most have already passed their deadline to apply. I must say that I am truly thankful this year that I have raised my boys to know the true meaning of Christmas. Praying may be all that gets us through this.

By kiralinkous — On Nov 27, 2010

In regards to - anon112656: I understand your concern on that. I have a family in need this Christmas,unfortunately. I have four great kids, an eight year old daughter, a five year old son, and twin girls who are three. I just want to say thank you for doing what you do in helping those in need, even if at a time it was to someone undeserving,God knew your heart and that it was in the right place. God Bless you. I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

By anon130023 — On Nov 26, 2010

@number 23: i am a single mom in need of help with my three year old daughter. I am an honest woman and I've never asked for help. I've donated many times in my life, but this year i am out of work, and i have come to terms with that need, and to accept that i need help.

I'm going to a food pantry monday morning to get some food and I'm searching for ways to get a donation. I'm hoping this works out or my daughter is going to be disappointed. Maybe next year will be better but I'm hoping a family can learn more about me and my little one and be able to help. she don't need much, just a gift or a stocking with small things.

I'm not a drug user or a bad mom, i always pay my own bills and I'm always helping others when i can. this is strictly about Christmas for my daughter. i just don't know how I'm going to get by this month. i can't even get a tree!

My own family doesn't help me so it would be a very religious experience for me. people need to come together more. i love helping out and making someone smile when i am able to do so. God bless.

By anon125490 — On Nov 09, 2010

I can relate to letter 10. I have been turned down by a couple of charities myself.

I know if they cannot help, they just can't help. I have four kids and did not get to sign them up anywhere for christmas.

But the charities are helping some people who just don't need help (I know a few) and then someone like myself and others do not get to see a gift.

Like with the school supplies at the first of school. I never was able to get that. I think they should be given to the schools and let them hand them to the kids who need to have anything.

I could go on and on but i will leave it in

god's hands. A good christmas is to see your kids open their gifts. The best christmas is when you have your kids on christmas morning.

By anon118316 — On Oct 13, 2010

I am disabled and i need christmas charity help, am 51-years of age, disabled in a wheel chair, low-income! I need donations to get a mini van with a lift for my power wheel chair so i can make all my doctor's appointments, and other trips.

By licha18 — On Oct 13, 2010

i am a teen mother of one child, am looking to get help for christmas gift for my child and little sisters and brother. my mom is an independent working mother with one job, and she can't afford a christmas this year. and right now i have no job. my boyfriend has a job but his only getting a few hours a week. am hoping to get help this christmas.

By anon112656 — On Sep 21, 2010

I've been looking for an individual family to help as I'm sick and tired of giving to people I don't know, and don't know if they are just getting extra or what.

I think it's only fair to receive a letter from the person who needs help explaining why and giving a couple of references or a minister in their area or someone. I'd be glad to adopt a family for Christmas to send the kids presents, but I want to know who they are!

By anon54182 — On Nov 27, 2009

How do I find those local groups for help? I am a mother of six and me and my husband haven't been able to find work. we live in the mountains with no vehicle and don't know where to go for help.

By wendylc — On Nov 25, 2008

I never thought i would have to ask for help,this year has been the worst ever, i have ms and my husband became ill in 2005, our income is very low we can barley eat or pay the bills,i have gone to social services,they say i don't qualify,i have had the ms foundation help with utilities, catholic charities with food, but now my worries are christmas for my 12 and 14 year old girls, and they need so much,like socks,both are size 8,jeans size 3 for one and 13plus in juniors for the other,they deserve a nice holiday,can anyone find me an angel? I would be for ever grateful

thank you

By anon6014 — On Dec 12, 2007

yeah they all want your money throughout the year but when someone needs help for christmas there always "FULL" and won't help any1. i got a pretty rude straight forward letter back from goodwill saying they can't help me that they would rather auction off guitar hero on their website and they have over 500+ units donated to them from the company. just thought i would post this reply for everyones knowledge on goodwill...

By lamaestra — On Nov 13, 2007

In order to best serve and protect families in need, we will not post particular requests for help. We suggest that people in need and people that want to help work directly with a charitable group that coordinates opportunities to receive help. You may find some basic information in this article, but we recommend that you contact local groups as well, which can probably serve you more directly.

Michael Pollick

Michael Pollick


As a frequent contributor to WiseGeek, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range...
Learn more
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