It’s only September, but some stores are already putting out Christmas decorations. If you are one of the many families who struggle to afford Christmas presents each year, thinking about the holidays can be especially stressful.
While health and quality family time are more important than presents, it’s still nice to be able to provide a little something to see your child smile that day. Now is the time to seek out Christmas assistance programs, as several organizations require registration as early as October.
Use this list to get started:
Toys for Tots
Toys for Tots, operated by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, aims to provide children with a new toy for Christmas. Through that toy, they aspire to deliver hope that will help these children become “responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.”
Some locations cannot donate directly to single families, but rather to organizations that will then distribute the toys to those families. Contact your local Toys for Tots for the application deadline. For reference, the Chicago deadline is November 28, 2015.
The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree
You have likely seen a tree decorated with paper angels at your company or local shopping center over the holidays. These angel trees are part of the Salvation Army’s program that provides new toys and clothing to children at Christmas.
Donors choose an angel that has the first name, age, and gender of a child registered for the program and shop for that child, giving the gifts to the organizer to be delivered to the child in need.
Families typically apply in October and November, but please call your local Corps Community Center to get more information.
The Lion’s Club
Several Lion’s Club locations provide Christmas assistance for children as well. Contact your local branch in October to see if they provide help for children during the holidays.
Once you have reached out to an organization for help, set expectations for the holidays with your children early. You know them best and know what explanation will help, whether it’s about Santa or your family’s financial situation. Emphasize family time over gifts and focus on the true meaning of the holidays. If they understand that, then they will be grateful for the gifts they receive and for the time they get to spend with you and your family.