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FREE Christmas Gifts & Food in Iowa!

FREE Christmas Gifts & Food in Iowa!

Christmas can be difficult for Iowa families, especially when they can’t afford Christmas gifts or a special Christmas dinner for their families. We know firsthand how frustrating it is when you can’t provide your kiddos with the holiday celebration they expect or yearn for. Sometimes, the money just isn’t there.

Fortunately, we’ve found help! There are agencies all around Iowa that are dedicated to helping low income families (and especially children) have a blessed and enjoyable holiday season.

If you aren’t located in Iowa, then please click here to find free Christmas gifts and food in other US states. 

Get free Christmas gifts and food in Iowa!

No matter where in Iowa you’re located, these agencies may be able to help. They serve most of the United States.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is famous for their holiday bell-ringers who gather donations. In addition to these fundraising efforts, they also save Christmas for low income families across the country by providing free gifts and food. In order to get help from the Salvation Army, visit their website to find your local chapter. 

Toys for Tots

Toys for Tots is another famous Christmas campaign that distributes toys to children who need them. In order to receive help from the Marines Toys for Tots drive, you’ll need to visit their official website. 

Get free Christmas gifts and food in your local Iowa community!

There are many people and organizations working to save Christmas for local families. These agencies operate on a local level and can only be found by investigating what exists in your local community. We’re doing that research for you, one Iowa county at a time!

If you don’t see your county on this list, please leave a comment and let me know. This series is written entirely by reader request so we don’t start working on a new area until we receive a request for it.

Franklin County

There are many Churches and other charitable organizations that are working to save Christmas in Franklin County, Iowa! If you need a little help this holiday season, here’s a list of places that can help you:

Toy Assistance:

Toys For Tots dedicates their time every Christmas gathering toys from caring Franklin County community members to brighten the holidays for low-income parents struggling to buy presents for their children. These gifts get delivered to registered families a few days before Christmas, giving children something to open on Christmas Day. To take part in their program, parents must register their child through the request toys link on their website. The registration time is from October 29th to December 9th this year (2022). They will usually respond between November 10th and December 12th. The distribution dates are between December 14th and December 16th. During the 2021 Christmas season, 27,598 toys to 6,596 children.

Food Assistance:

Church Of The Open Bible has the Ruth Project Food Pantry to reach out to community members in need throughout Hardin and Franklin Counties. They receive meat from Armour Eckridge, fresh produce and bakery goods from Hy-Vee, and non-perishables from the Food Bank of Iowa. It’s not clear on their site what they do special for the holidays, but they are open during the Christmas season. 

Hardin County

Toy Assistance:

Greenbelt Home Care partners with Toys for Tots to host their annual Helping Holidays party at the Bethany Lutheran Church in Iowa Falls.  This year (2022) the event will be Saturday, December 10th. They invite parents of income families to pick out either an unwrapped or a gently used toy for their kids and have it wrapped for free! There may be a per child limit, depending on the amount of donations they received that year. 

Children get to enjoy the Kids Christmas Zone. Here, children can play games and participate in Christmas themed activities. They are also invited to choose a present for their parents and have it wrapped for them. 

If your family wants to participate, you can R.S.V.P. using this Google Form or you can call them at 641-939-8444. This year (2022) the deadline to register ends on the 28th of November. After you register, your tickets for the event will be sent to the address you gave when you R.S.V.P.’d. Note: you probably won’t get an email confirmation, but the form will say it is submitted if you filled everything out correctly. If you have any trouble with the form, you can just call them. 

Santa’s Little Helpers are a group that has been helping families with Christmas assistance for nine years now. If your family needs assistance for the holidays, you can contact either Johnny or Brianne Schipper and give them your information

Here is the information you should send for EACH child to make the process go faster:

  • Age
  • Gender 
  • Clothing (pants, shirts, shoes, etc.)
  • What the family/child NEEDS
  • Gift ideas for the family

Sending this information for each child in the home can greatly increase the speed of the registration process. Once you are registered and everything is in, your family’s post will be displayed on the Facebook page, and someone will comment about helping your family. Note, they don’t provide electronics, expensive items, or monetary gifts. 

Food Assistance:

Greenbelt Home Care provides breakfast on the day of their Helping Holidays party in Hardin County. You can eat and enjoy the festive atmosphere before playing games and picking presents. 

Linn County

Linn County includes Cedar Rapids, Marion, Hiawatha, Mount Vernon and other cities. If you live in this county and you’ve ever wondered what kind of help is available for your family during the holidays, then this is the list you’ve been looking for.

Polk County

If you live in Polk County, including in the Des Moines area, then we have found a ton of resources that may be able to help you! We weren’t able to include them all in this list, so to find help in your area you’ll need to check out our list of Christmas assistance programs in Polk County.

Get more FREE stuff in Iowa!

Nicole leads the Low Income Relief team with over 20 years of professional research and writing experience. Nicole started Low Income Relief after a personal experience with poverty. When her husband was medically discharged from the US Army, their family experienced tremendous financial hardship. Nicole was able to gather help from multiple community agencies and move into a nearby low income housing unit in just two weeks! Since then, Nicole has been dedicated to helping low income families in crisis. She regularly spends hundreds of hours combing through countless resources to make sure that Low Income Relief has the most comprehensive and complete resource directories on the internet today. Prior to starting Low Income Relief, Nicole worked as a novelist, journalist, ghostwriter and content creator. Her work has been featured in various print and online publications, including USA Today, eHow, Livestrong, Legal Beagle, The Daily Herald, The Chronicle and more.

Michele Pedersen

Tuesday 8th of November 2022

As a grandma of soon to be 8 grandchildren in calhoun County I take care of them over half of the time I live on disability and I can't find any place that will help a grandparent with food or gifts where can a struggling grandma go?

Catherine Marucci

Tuesday 8th of November 2022

Hi Michele. It can be a struggle! It may be worth calling 211 to see if they know of anything in your local area.

Teresa Merritt

Saturday 15th of October 2022

I have a friend who has MS and she been told she don't have much longer. They have no money and she can't work..she has 4 kids 10 and under and they live in Dubuque County in Iowa. They desperately need help not only for Christmas but for everything. Please tell me where I could get them help.

Catherine Marucci

Sunday 16th of October 2022

Hi Teresa. We're so sorry to hear that. It must be incredibly hard for the whole family. Here are some resources that may be helpful: For Christmas gifts, if none of the above agencies can help, It may be worth calling 211 to see what else is available locally. For other help, here are some ideas:

Nikki Valdez

Friday 10th of December 2021

Lee County (Fort Madison), Iowa


Monday 13th of December 2021

The organizations in our list should be able to help you with this, but unfortunately Low Income Relief does not provide gifts, food or funds directly. You will need to contact the organizations in this list for assistance or chat with Lira! She should be able to help,

Terry Blackbird

Monday 7th of December 2020

Hello I live in the Woodbury county area. Sioux City and I'm needing help with christmas single u employed grandmother

Hannah Benge

Monday 7th of December 2020

I've added this to the research list. In the meantime, check here for help -Hannah

Patricia Meyer

Thursday 29th of October 2020

Yes I live in page county Iowa Clarinda Iowa to be exact and looking for help for the winter holidays thx so much

Hannah Benge

Friday 30th of October 2020

I've added this to the research list. Thanks for letting us know -Hannah