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Top 10 Free Christmas Assistance Programs in 2022

Top 10 Free Christmas Assistance Programs in 2022

Christmas assistance is more important than ever in 2022. With inflation soaring sky-high, we expect that more families than usual will be looking for holiday help this year.

Fortunately, we’ve found holiday programs that can help with free Christmas gifts, food, trees, and more. In this post, we’ll review our 10 favorites.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is a nationwide organization but their offerings typically vary by location. The type of Christmas assistance that you receive from the Salvation Army will depend on where you live.

In most areas, the Salvation Army runs an Angel Tree. This program collects basic information about low income children in their community, such as their age, gender, and requested gifts. That information is written on tags, which are hung on holiday trees inside major retailers like Walmart. Shoppers can pick up a tag, shop for that child, and then donate the gifts in-store. The Salvation Army then ensures that the donated gifts are delivered to the children.

An Adopt-a-Family program may be available in areas that do not have an Angel Tree. the Adopt-a-Family program allows donors to donate gifts, toys, food, gift cards, cleaning supplies and more to families in need.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE: Typically, the Salvation Army only provides Christmas assistance for children ages 12 and under. Your household may need to meet certain income limits or other requirements.

HOW TO APPLY: To apply for Christmas assistance from the Salvation Army, you will need to visit their website to find your local chapter. Some local agencies begin accepting registrations in October, so contact them right away!

Toys for Tots

Marine Toys for Tots is a popular Christmas assistance program that provides new unwrapped toys to low income children around the United States during the holiday season. Although this program operates nationwide, applications are processed through local organizations.

This program has distributed 19 million toys to 7.3 million low income children in the last year. This is a huge impact! Their organization includes local campaigns in 800 communities across all 50 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE: Toys for Tots typically serves children ages 12 and under with free gifts and toys. Your household may be required to meet income limits and other requirements as well.

HOW TO APPLY: In order to apply, you will need to register on the Marine Toys for Tots website. Follow the prompts on this page to connect with the local campaign in your area. You can also use their website to track the status of your application.

Operation Homefront

Operation Homefront is a national nonprofit organization that serves military and veteran families. They offer financial help, transitional housing programs, and so much more to help these families become stable and safe.

They also offer Christmas assistance for eligible families who need it. They have a holiday toy drive through their partnership with Dollar Tree. They donated over 220,000 toys in 2019 alone!

They also provide free holiday meals. They’ve served over 606,000 people through this program since 2010.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE: In order to be eligible for help from Operation Homefront, you must have actively served in the United States military after 9/11. You must either be deployed, disabled, wounded, ill or injured. There are other eligibility requirements listed on their website.

HOW TO APPLY: You will need to visit their website and click the “get help now” button. Alternatively, you can reach out to their organization directly.

St. Vincent de Paul

The Society St. Vincent de Paul often offers Christmas assistance to low income families through their local parishes. In order to receive help, you typically have to live within the boundaries of a local parish or Conference.

The program can vary widely between parishes. For example, the Immaculate Conception of Dardenne Catholic Church in Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, provides an Adopt-a-Family program but the St. Vincent de Paul of Southwest Idaho operates a Christmas Toy Store that allows low income families to pick out toys for their children.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE: You must be a low income person or family in order to receive Christmas assistance. Each parish can set their own eligibility requirements. Many only serve families that include either children or the elderly.

HOW TO APPLY: You will need to contact your local SDVP provider in order to get more information about the application process and eligibility instructions.

Santa’s Little Helpers

Santa’s Little Helpers is a subreddit on Reddit. This community has tens of thousands of people who pool their resources to help low income families in need.

This subreddit has been handling requests for years and has a strict moderation process for applicants. You will need to read all the rules and follow them in order to receive help. The help is capped at $75 per child over the age of 2 months and under the age of 18. The limit may be reduced to $50 on December 17, if too many requests are unfulfilled.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE: One account may register per household. Requests must be made by the head of household, adult parent or legal guardian on behalf of their immediate family. You cannot request gifts for pets. You can only request for three years in a row.

HOW TO APPLY: You must register on their website before you post a request. They will require proof of mailing address, and supporting documents for your reason for request. You can read all their rules here.

Operation Santa

Operation Santa has been helping families for 110 years! This program is organized by the United States Postal Service and relies on the kindness of strangers.

In order to receive help from this program, you must write a letter to Santa using the special address provided by USPS. The agency redacts any personal information and then uploads those letters to the internet. Generous people adopt letters and fulfill the requests, shipping gifts to the families who made the requests.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE: Anyone is eligible. It does not appear that there are any verification instructions. According to USPS, anyone can write a letter including adults and seniors!

HOW TO APPLY: Your child will need to write a letter to Santa. Talk about your year and make requests. Be specific! If you’re asking for clothes, include a size, style and color. If you’re asking for toys, games and books, include names and titles. Don’t forget to include your shipping address! You’ll need to send the letter to Santa Claus at 123 Elf Road North Pole 88888. Letters must be sent by December 12!

Catholic Charities

It appears that many Catholic Charities locations may offer Christmas assistance to low income families as well. However, the details vary depending on where you live.

In Wisconsin, you can complete their application online for up to 8 people but it isn’t clear what is provided.

In Houston, Texas, families can pick up gifts for a maximum of 3 children who are 16 years old or younger. You’ll be required to show photo ID and have an appointment prior to pick up. It just varies by location.

In Spokane, Washington, the Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington partners with other organizations to maintain the Christmas Bureau, which provides a grocery voucher to each household, as well an age-appropriate book (for those ages 15 and under) and one toy (for those ages 17 and under).

There are Christmas assistance programs available from other Catholic Charities locations as well, but the details vary.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE: The details vary by location. Typically, these organizations only serve children but may include seniors or adults in certain areas.

HOW TO APPLY: You will need to contact your local Catholic Charities organization for application details. You can often apply online.

Christmas Tree Project

The Christmas Tree Project provides free decorated Christmas trees throughout the world. If you need a holiday tree, you should start by requesting one on their website!

This project began when a couple offered one Christmas tree for free on Craigslist and received over 20 responses. Now, they serve people all over the world every year!

WHO IS ELIGIBLE: Anyone can apply for a tree. Make sure to explain the reason you’re asking so that your application stands apart!

HOW TO APPLY: You can apply for a free Christmas tree on The Christmas Tree Project’s website by clicking the “Request a Tree” button.

Food Banks

Many food banks across the United States offer free Christmas assistance to low income families in their communities. This could include food, gifts, toys, trees or even gift cards depending on donations and the policies of your local food bank.

We’ve also found food banks that offer birthday gifts and other resources, so you should always connect with your local food bank if you’re struggling financially.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE: Typically, everyone can receive food from a food bank. Some may set special requirements for holiday gifts, though.

HOW TO APPLY: Contact your local food bank for help!

Check This Directory

We have found hundreds of other ways that you can receive Christmas assistance. Check our complete holiday help directory for more ways that you can get help this holiday season!

Nicole is the owner and lead researcher for Low Income Relief. She has over 20 years of professional research and writing experience, and she has been solely dedicated to investigating low income topics for the last 10 years. 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, The Daily Herald, The Chronicle and more. Her work has also been featured by Google for Publishers and other leading industry publications.

Brianna hermis

Saturday 24th of December 2022

I'm for m you 2 children fayth 4yrs and journi 2 yes we need help to keep there faith

Catherine Marucci

Saturday 24th of December 2022

Hi Brianna. You can try calling 211 to see if they know of any last-minute Christmas help in your area. I hope you find something!


Tuesday 20th of December 2022

I need help with Christmas food please

Catherine Marucci

Tuesday 20th of December 2022

Hi Ruby. It might be worth calling 211 to see if they know of anything still available in your area.

Shawntel Luke

Monday 19th of December 2022

My name is shawntel Luke and I need help with getting my grandkids Christmas toys for Christmas and I been out of work for a while now and I'm recovering from drugs and trying to do the best I can to make them happy

Catherine Marucci

Tuesday 20th of December 2022

Hi Shawntel. You can try contacting 211 to see if they know of any organizations in your local area that still have room on a Christmas list.

Lamina babatunde

Monday 19th of December 2022

Am babatunde Lamina, my wife just go through surgery and I have no money on me again.please we need food to eat on xmas, we will really appreciate your assistance.

Catherine Marucci

Tuesday 20th of December 2022

Hi. You can try contacting 211 to see if they know of any organizations in your local area that still have room on a Christmas list.

tiffani anderson

Wednesday 14th of December 2022

Hello my name is Tiffani Anderson, i know this maybe cutting it very very close, but i am currently not financially able to get Christmas presents for my 2 1/2-year-old girl, and for my 5-year-old girl either. this year has been extremely hard and very very hectic and super exhausting with everything and the way things have been going. i have been super stressed and trying to think of any possible way to be able to come up with getting these greatest gifts to my life the very very best Christmas i can regards so please im begging begging begging anyone please help me make their christmas one they won't ever forget please?? I just recently started a new job last week so i won't get my first check yet plus might now even be over 300$ if that im not sure tho but still wouldn't be even close to being enough...

Thank you so much in advance, Tiffani Anderson

Catherine Marucci

Wednesday 14th of December 2022

Hi Tiffani. If the options above are not helpful, it may be worth calling 211 to see if there is anything else they can suggest in your area.