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Get FREE Christmas Help in Iowa!

Get FREE Christmas Help in Iowa!

We’ve found free Christmas help for Iowa families! The holidays can be difficult, 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.

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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.

Get Free Christmas Help in Iowa

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

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.

The Salvation Army’s Christmas programs include hot congregate meals and free toys from the Angel Tree program. Each branch handles the holidays a little differently, so it’s important to check with your local office for details.

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WHO IS ELIGIBLE: Most of the Salvation Army’s programs serve anyone in need. In most areas, their hot congregate meals welcome anyone who needs a meal. The Angel Tree program that provides free Christmas gifts typically only serves children or seniors from low income households.

HOW TO GET HELP: You can register for the Angel Tree online. For other services, please contact your local Salvation Army branch.

Toys for Tots

Toys for Tots is another famous Christmas campaign that distributes toys to children who need them. This program is organized by the Marine Corps Reserve and has a presence in all 50 states. They collect toys from the community to distribute to families who need them.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE: This program typically serves children ages 12 and under, although the age limit may vary somewhat depending on your local program’s policies. You also have to live in a participating county. There are currently 41 Iowa counties that are not covered by a Toys for Tots campaign.

HOW TO APPLY: You can apply online when you visit the Toys for Tots website. Click “Request a Toy” and select Iowa from the drop-down menu. You’ll also need to choose your county. Then, you’ll be able to apply.

More Christmas Help

For even more Christmas help, check out our list of nationwide Christmas assistance programs! These are charities like Salvation Army and Toys for Tots that serve people all over the United States. Some you may have heard of, but others aren’t as well known. Wherever you live, they may be able to provide you with free Christmas gifts, food and more. Check out that list for details!

Local Christmas Help in Iowa

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!

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Franklin County

Church Of The Open Bible in Iowa Falls has a program called The Ruth Project that provides help for community members in Hardin and Franklin Counties. They can provide help with food, including meat donated from Armour Eckridge, and fresh produce. If you’re struggling around Christmastime, they may be able to help you put together some food for your holiday meal.

Hardin County

Church Of The Open Bible in Iowa Falls has a program called The Ruth Project that provides help for community members in Hardin and Franklin Counties. They can provide help with food, including meat donated from Armour Eckridge, and fresh produce. If you’re struggling around Christmastime, they may be able to help you put together some food for your holiday meal.

Santa’s Little Helpers is a Facebook group that helps children in Hardin County connect with donors who can give them gifts. The group encourages donors to spend $10-$15 per child. If your family needs assistance for the holidays, you can contact the admins, Johnny or Brianne Schipper, and give them your information. 

Linn County

Linn County includes Cedar Rapids, Marion, Hiawatha, Mount Vernon and other cities. If you live in this area and need Christmas help, reach out to these organizations.

Families Helping Families in Cedar Rapids holds an annual Christmas party for children who have had experience in the foster care system. Eligible children may be currently in foster care, adopted from foster care, or other children who are living in a foster home. This Christmas party offers free Christmas toys and gifts, face painting, entertainment, games, pictures with Santa, and more. You will need the name of the caseworker (or former caseworker) and the child’s Medicaid number in order to register for the event.

Mission Of Hope in Cedar Rapids offers a food pantry for low-income families, seniors, veterans, working people, and those who are homeless. They also have a soup kitchen that serves a weekday lunch and provides emergency food sacks. If you need help with winter clothing, they have a clothes closet that may be able to help you as well.

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Polk County

St. Vincent De Paul Society in Des Moines offers holiday food baskets to low income families in Polk County. They may also offer free toys.

Families Forward in Des Moines offers a holiday toy pantry. You need to register in advance in order to get the free Christmas gifts. They also have programs that can help with your holiday meal and other essential needs.

Caring Hands Outreach Center in Altoona has several services available to help Polk County families bridge the gap during a time of struggle. They might provide holiday food ingredients during Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Urbandale Food Pantry in Urbandale provides food bags, or baskets during Christmas time with fresh and canned fruits and vegetables, ingredients to make pasta and spaghetti, beans, tuna, chicken, rice, cereal, and other items like milk for Polk County families in need. During Christmas time, holiday-themed items may be included. 

West Des Moines Human Services provides assistance during the holidays for Polk County families who qualify. They have a holiday Adopt-A-Family program that starts accepting applications in early October. Registrations close by the end of November so you need to act fast!

Story County

Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Slater offers a food bank that can provide essential food for people who need it. If you’re having a hard time with your holiday meal, they may be able to help you out.

Relief Recap

There are many organizations in Iowa that provide Christmas help during the holiday season. From free food to free Christmas gifts, you can contact the organizations on this list for assistance. They all have different requirements, so it’s important to keep trying even if one agency isn’t a good fit.

Lauri

Friday 15th of December 2023

@David Lyman, agree!! Jasper county is very limited!!

Catherine Marucci

Wednesday 8th of November 2023

Hi, if the resources above are not helpful, it may be worth calling 211 to see if they know of any other options.

Nana

Thursday 2nd of November 2023

Jackson County does offer Toys for Tots and a Food Pantry. The Methodist Church is the last place I knew of for information.

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.