Live in Los Angeles County or the San Fernando Valley and need free Christmas toys or food for the holidays? From Bellflower to Burbank, we have a list of places to help make your season bright.
Free Christmas Toys and Food from Churches
Catholic Charities in Los Angeles County helps low-income families with holiday baskets at Christmas and Thanksgiving. They also provide free groceries throughout the year and may help with other items or make referrals to other holiday programs. One of these, St Vincent de Paul, gives out free Christmas toys, clothing, and shoes.
Cornerstone Christian Antioch serves low-income families in San Fernando Valley with emergency food, including bags of bread, vegetables, canned goods, and perishables. The amount of food is based on the size of the family. For more information, call (818) 899-5900.
First United Methodist Church Of Compton serves all LA County. Anyone who qualifies based on specific income levels and other factors may receive holiday meals, turkeys, side dishes, and holiday baskets. Call (310) 639-0775.
Grace Resources Center represents over 30 churches in Los Angeles County and surrounding areas. In addition to a food pantry, the center gives away meals, gifts, diapers, and free Christmas toys.
Hollywood United Methodist Church partners with Temple Israel of Hollywood and the ILM Foundation to serve 1,000 hot roast turkey dinners to those in need. Children who attend will receive toys, and adults will receive personal care items.
Hope Chapel Hawthorne sponsors a large food giveaway each month as well as an October 31 Harvest Party with food and games. The chapel also sponsors outreach programs during the holidays. For more information, call (310) 970-9023.
Interfaith Services, Inc. and its partners cater especially to needy families with children. Charities in the group include Fish Emergency Center, Urban Harvester Partner, Harbor Interfaith Shelter, and others. Gifts include baskets of food, hot meals, and toys for children 18 years or younger.
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church operates an on-site food bank for families near Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley. They provide nonperishable packaged goods, canned foods, bread, meat, fresh foods, and fresh fruit when available. All families in need are welcome but must bring proper identification and proof of residency. For more information, call (562) 733-1147.
St. Marks United Methodist Church helps families and individuals who need emergency or ongoing food assistance. Recipients must be residents of San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, Hollywood, or San Pedro. They must also provide a valid form of identification. The amount of food depends on the size of the family. For more information, call (323) 753-3535.
St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church serves low-income families in and around Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley regardless of age, religion, or background. The church offers free school supplies and lunches, emergency groceries, and holiday baskets with food, toys, and gifts. For more information, call (818) 891-1759.
The Giving Spirit Winter Outreach, a project of the Brentwood Presbyterian Church, puts together survival kits for families living on the street in Los Angeles and surrounding areas. Each kit contains around 70 items. Register in October or request more information.
Wayside United Methodist Church in Lomita provides low to moderate income families with emergency food and groceries. During the holidays, they also give away gift certificates, toys, games, and Christmas decorations while supplies last. For more information, call (310) 326-4541.
Free Christmas Toys and Food From Nonprofits
Ascension Food Pantry provides food and holiday dinners to low-income families during the holidays. They also offer free hot meals and small toys when available. You must provide an ID with residence in Los Angeles or San Fernando to qualify. Call (323) 754-2978.
Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza offers free Christmas gifts to babies, children, and teens from low-income families who live in Crenshaw. Their annual Winter Wonderland Celebration provides entertainment, sledding, and treats. Call (323) 290-6636.
Bellflower Volunteer Center provides food baskets for low-income residents at Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter. Contents may include food for families or gifts of toys and clothes for children of all ages. You will need proof of residence and an ID.
Big Sunday is an organization that believes everybody has something to give. In addition to holiday parties and sing-alongs, they offer truckloads of necessities, gift baskets, and other supplies to needy families, children, teenage mothers, and senior citizens every year. They also work with battered women, hospice patients, troubled teens, and anyone else who needs their help.
Boys and Girls Clubs of America is an organization that helps underprivileged children. In some cities, they also offer help for the holidays. Parents usually need to provide proof that income is 150% below the U.S. poverty level, but help is available for ages to 18. Early applications are recommended.
Connections for Children sponsors a Holiday Angels Program for children who participate in their subsidy programs and their families. The nonprofit sponsors an event where they offer gifts and entertainment to hundreds of children.
Family Rescue Center of LA offers food, clothing, and other help throughout the year. It also offers Thanksgiving meals and free Christmas toys to those in need, but other events and help may also be available. Much of the center’s work is in the Canoga Park area of LA.
Food on Foot is a nonprofit that serves Los Angeles by providing healthy meals, clothing, opportunities for work, and transitional help for the poor and homeless.
L.A. County Department of Social Services helps low-income families with its Adopt-A-Family Program. The organization gives away new Christmas toys, food, and clothing during the holidays. Families can register for the program. For information call (213) 744-4590 or e-mail [email protected]
Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has a victims’ assistance fund that provides holiday cheer to hundreds of crime victims each year.
Los Angeles Mission gives away hot meals at Thanksgiving to those in need. It also provides a Christmas dinner for Skid Row families. The events, which also include toys, shoes, and healthcare, create long lines each year.
Make-A-Wish Foundation is a nonprofit that offers gifts and wishes to children who face life-threatening illnesses. Although the service is year-round, children who are eligible my ask for Christmas gifts as a wish. A parent, guardian, family member, medical professional, or the child can apply online.
MEND Poverty connects families in need with people who can help. Registered families receive food for a complete Christmas dinner. Adults receive a sweatshirt and a small household item, and children receive one clothing item and two toys. You must live in the San Fernando Valley or Los Angeles California and have a child aged 18 years old or younger to qualify. For more information, call (818) 686-7375.
Midnight Mission serves Christmas brunch to around 2,000 homeless men, women, and children each year in the Skid Row area of LA. Children who attend select free toys at Santa’s Village. For over 100 years, the mission has helped the homeless with necessities and healthier living. Their many services include a mail room, a barber shop, job readiness, hospital referrals, education, and transitional housing. For all of their events, visit their online events calendar.
Mothers Club Pasadena operates an adopt a family program through its Family Learning Center. Families are matched to people who can help.
My Friend’s Place provides daytime shelter, clothing, showers, and meals to homeless youth in Los Angeles year-round. They also offer creative and art workshops, survival skill classes, job search program, homework and GED tutoring, substance abuse education, violence prevention classes, and voter registration. They may also offer holiday events or giveaways.
No Kid Hungry is a charity that sells Holiday Tribute Cards for LA Regional Food Bank and sponsors Stock the Pantry events around the county. No Kid Hungry works to eliminate childhood hunger all year long. They may also have special events during the holidays.
One Simple Wish is a service that lets foster children post their wishes online. Categories include year-round, holiday, age, gender, price range, location, and types of gifts.
One Voice Holiday Food Program holds an event at The Barker Hangar in Santa Monica every year. The Holiday Food Program gives holiday food baskets, toys, and books to approximately 2,500 families each year.
Operation Christmas Spirit accepts wish lists from military families who need financial help and distributes free Christmas toys, food, and other help during the holidays and throughout the year.
Operation Youth Education Services provides free bags of food to families with children, regardless of geographical location. Families must prove they are working poor, low-income, or living in poverty to qualify. Each bag of food given contains canned goods, meat, beans, bread, pasta, and rice. For more information, call (323) 263-6937.
Police Activity League Youth Center in Devonshire gives away free Christmas toys, books, and gifts cards to children who participate in the PALS program.
Salvation Army operates several programs in Los Angeles County, including food pantries that provide holiday food or meals, an Angel Tree Program, and an Adopt a Family project. Families can register in October to request gifts for children 12 years or younger.
SantaCAN allows at-risk youth in foster care in LA County to list their wishes online. Donors can choose a gift and ship it through the Children’s Action Network.
Sova Community Food and Resource Program helps low-income residents in West Los Angeles, San Fernando Valley, and Hollywood. They offer free bags of groceries once a month and special help during Christmas, including toys, games, and clothing to children under the age of 18. For more information, call (818) 988-2978.
Spark of Love is a toy drive sponsored by the Southern California Firefighters. Visit their website to fill out a request for holiday assistance. The foundation gives away more than 500,000 donated Christmas toys every year. Fill out an application here.
The Laugh Factory holds an annual Christmas Day Feast for anyone who is away from home, lonely, homeless, or in need of a hot meal, company, or laughter. Well-known comedians and celebrities serve and entertain adults who need a bit of Christmas cheer.
Toys for Tots is a program run by the United States Marine Corps. Parents or friends can request help. Most services are geared to children under 12, but some locations help teens too. Deadlines vary with each branch, and early registrations are preferable.
Union Station Homeless Services plans to serve over 500 hot meals to homeless individuals, families, senior citizens, and people who are alone or unable to afford a holiday meal. Holiday at the Station takes place at Union Station Adult Center in Pasadena.
United Way matches families with programs who can help them with Christmas toys. Dial 211 or visit their website. Cities operate differently, but parents are often allowed to select donated toys for their children. Guidelines may vary, but most ask parents to register. The United Way then contacts the ones who are approved. The age limit is usually 16.
Urban Harvester Partner recycles food that grocery stores and other businesses cannot use. The organization helps low-income families by giving out Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets in El Monte and South El Monte as well as giving throughout the year. Call (626) 444-7269.
USPS Operation Santa has been a project of the United States Postal Service Operation Santa for over 100 years. Postal works open letters mailed to Santa and copy those from needy children, removing any personal details. They then try to fill the children’s wishes. While there are no guarantees that wishes will be met, anyone may write a letter on a child’s behalf.
West Angeles Community Development Corporation offers their services to low-income or working poor residents of West Los Angeles, but they also help struggling residents from other counties. Gifts include help from their food bank and soup kitchen as well as free Christmas toys and gift certificates when available. Applicants must provide valid identification, proof of residency and income, and a list of expenses. For more information, call (323) 733-8300.
YMCA has numerous branches in the San Fernando and Los Angeles area. Some or all of them give out free Christmas toys. Requirements and age limits vary with different locations, and recipients usually need to show proof of financial distress.
Free Christmas Toys in Your Neighborhood
Many churches and schools sponsor food and toy drives during the holidays. If you can’t find free Christmas toys or food in your neighborhood, talk to someone in local schools or churches about your specific needs. Chances are they will help or refer you to someone who can. Also, look for food banks and soup kitchens. They give away food all year and may give away holiday meals and gifts.
Other Ways to Save During the Holidays
Check out websites where people give away things they no longer need. You may find free Christmas toys or pay little, but you will need to pick them up. Law enforcement agencies recommend meeting in public places for safety reasons. Freecycle.com and ReUseIt.com have local pages in most cities. Craigslist also has a section for free items. Toyswap.com offers parents a chance to swap toys online or in person, but shipping can be expensive.