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When in need for financial, Thanksgiving, or Christmas assistance, first try to get the help you need from your local agencies in your area.

Some charitable organizations who offer help are the Salvation Army, county or local Department of Human Services (google your state and department of human services), Catholic Charities, and the United Way. They can all be found on the Internet.

If you call 211, there are people there to help you find agencies and organizations in your area that offer assistance.

Other suggestions where you may find holiday help information:

Local foodbank – If they don’t help families directly, they may have a list of agencies in your area that use their services.

Local newspapers – Reporters in the Community Section may have written articles on the topic and know of charitable organizations you can contact.

Local churches – Call the office and ask the secretary if they have a community assistance program or could they refer you to another contact.

Local radio stations – They too, may have reported on local organizations that will be providing Christmas gifts and food for local families.

Local police and/or fire departments – Often times, the members have holiday toy drives for local children. Also, since there are many members who live and work in various communities, they may know where you can find Christmas help for your family.

Local schools – The school nurse, social worker, Student Assistance Coordinator, or guidance counselor may have information available to help you find the help you need this holiday season.

Fund drive - There is the chance that if people know about your hardship, they may raise funds to purchase gift cards or Christmas presents for your children.

The Salvation Army and other food pantries make available dry and canned foods along with some meat when available. They purchase the food from the local foodbank at a very reduced cost per pound. The purchases are paid for through donations they receive.

Call your local foodbank. They are in need of volunteers, as well as other agenices. Perhaps if you volunteer, you may be able to receive food for your family in exchange for your help. You’ll have to contact to find out.

I know of a foodbank in New Jersey that also has a “store” where agencies can select new clothing for their clients’ children so that they have 5 complete outfits. Find out from the agencies that can help you if they also can provide some clothing for your family.

Christmas trees – I’ve noticed that some Christmas Tree sales have leftover trees. You might be able to offer free work in exchange to receive a free Christmas tree for your family. They may have tree tops that they cut off for customers which can be made into small Christmas trees decorated with homemade ornaments.

FreeCycle.com – Check out FreeCycle.com. People in your area may have items they no longer need. If you can find a way to go get it, it’s yours for free.

Garage sales – Garage sales often be a source for nearly new toys and children’s clothing.

Clean up day – Many communities have “clean up” day where residents can put to the curb items that are not allowed in the trash or too good to throw out. They know someone will come by and take it away.
On those days – if it’s at the curb, it’s free.

Start a clothing exchange – everyone brings clothes they no longer need or fit – adult and children – then the members exchange with each other – and no money spent!

Start your own small holiday business: In the news was a family who sold homemade bread to raise money to pay the mortgage so they wouldn’t lose their home.

A neighbor of my son’s left a flyer on the doorstep of every townhouse where she lived offering gift wrapping service to raise money for Christmas gifts for her children since she had recently become unemployed.

Another neighbor offered a cleaning service with a special rate for those living in her neighborhood.

Daycare – Are you in a position to offer daycare at a reduced rate – something is better than nothing – to start your own daycare?

Advertising agent - I remember seeing a man in NYC who advertised to vendors that he would walk around with a sandwich sign advertising their business.

A new way to earn money is to drive around with an advertising wrap on your car. See if that is offered in your area. (I heard it on a NJ radio station.)

Dog walker – A student of mine walks dogs everyday for older neighbors who can’t exercise their dogs anymore.

Flea markets – Sell items at flea markets for the vendors who may not want to sit there all day or who may want to sell at more than one flea market.  If you have a talent making things, see if you can share part of the vendor’s space.

I’m not sure if any of these suggestions can help you in your situation, but do take time out to think about how you might be able to earn some Christmas gift money – put on your creative thinking hat – think outside the box. I wish you luck in your search for help this Christmas season.

To all of you who are seeking help for your family,

I have closed comments. Unfortunately, the few “donors” who responded with offers to help turned out to be deceitful. It breaks my heart to read all the requests for Christmas help and to find that so few are willing to donate. And it makes my blood boil knowing now that there are people who don’t mind adding to your heartbreak by playing a sick joke by offering help and then not responding. I am truly sorry I couldn’t help any of you.

Nana

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