Fall arrives this weekend and that means Christmas will soon be here. There are many local agencies and charities who organize toy drives and clothing drives to help families in need at Christmas. It is heartbreaking to know that your child may have to wake up Christmas morning to find no toys or gifts of any kind waiting under a tree or at the foot of their bed. Even if money is scarce and you are need of help, there are possibly a few helpful things that you can do in preparation for your child’s Christmas so that there might be at least one or two toys and new clothes to bring a smile to a sad face.
1. Sign Up Now! Most important, make a list of local organizations and charities that hold toy and clothing drives to help families in need at Christmas time. Suggestions are the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Toys for Tots, local Fire Company, Police Department, Catholic Charities, local newspapers, radio stations, Kiwanis, Knights of Columbus, Elks, Chamber of Commerce, and your child’s school may have a fund, too. Make a list with phone numbers and spend an afternoon or two calling to find out their policies dates to submit names and other information needed. Older children are often excluded, but you may be able to receive food for your holiday meal. While you have them on the phone, ask if they can suggest another organization or charity that you could contact. Ask you friends and neighbors if they know of any. Sometimes there are smaller clubs that might help local children, but don’t advertise as much as the larger ones do.
2. Consignment Shops and Thrift Shops. Many stores often clean out their inventory as the seasons change. Second-hand stores reduce their prices and donate the clothes that haven’t sold. Go into the store, let them know that your family is need and would like to know where they donate their unsold clothing so that you could contact that organization. Who knows, they might tell you to come back when they are ready to donate them.
3. Consignment and Thrift Shops 2. These very discount stores also have slightly used toys at much lower prices than the stores sell them for. If you can save some money between now and Christmas, you could buy your child a toy and he wouldn’t know it wasn’t brand new. Kids love getting toys even if they aren’t new!
4. Free Craft Project Ideas. Go on the Internet and find easy, inexpensive gifts to make that your kids would love because you made them with love. Learn to crochet a hat, knit a scarf, decorate a T-shirt or tote bag. I actually bought an inexpensive cloth tote bag at AC Moore for each of my granddaughters and ironed on a few decorations and then painted their name with glittery puff paint on the other side. Don’t forget to add a heart or two! They loved their bags.
5. Clothing (and more) Swap. Do you have friends with kids about the same size and go to different schools? Have a clothing swap get together without the kids. Surprise them at Christmas with their “new clothes.” When they go back to school, they’ll have new outfits, too! Also, you might even be able to swap toys, CDs, DVDs, and books.
6. FreeSale.com Join a group in your area and see what others are posting to give away. All you’ll have to do is to arrange to pick up the items. You might find bikes, clothing, toys, beds, and more!
7. Free for the Taking. Many towns have “clean-up” days. Ours is the first Wednesday of the month. The next town over has theirs on the third Tuesday. Families, instead of taking items to a thrift or consignment shop or selling their things on eBay, just place them out to the curb knowing someone will take them away. We found, on three different occasions, battery operated Jeeps that our grandkids love to ride around the yard and driveway. All we had to do was clean them up and buy a $60 battery each time instead of paying over $300 for each – which we’d never do! Another time, we found a child’s stand up basketball hoop minus the net, but our two-year old grandson doesn’t care. Bikes are often found at the curb, too. Find out when the local towns have their clean-up days and start going around a couple of days or even the weekend before in search of free items that might make good gifts with a little TLC!
Wwith some pre-Christmas planning, you might be able to give your child a smile for Christmas!