Christmas

Where Low Income Families can get help with Christmas Costs



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Everybody knows that the past couple of years have not been the best of times.  Truth to tell, there are a lot of families that have been doing all the right things, have gotten their credit cards paid off, have cut costs down to the bone and are working two or three jobs, and then when Christmas comes along, there is just nothing left to spend.  You can’t start that same cycle of maxing out the credit cards just to make yourself feel better about Christmas presents.  On the other hand, it breaks your heart to have nothing for the kids to open on Christmas morning.

There are alternatives to get over this hump.  You are determined not to stay in this rut, so you won’t.  You also can have Christmas for the kids without begging in the street or blowing all you good intentions.

*Family and Children’s Services.  Your county’s DFCS often has programs on a proved income basis to help with gifts.  Be prepared with documentation to show your income and major expenses like rent and/or power bills.

*Toys for Tots.  This elder statesmen for finding new toys for kids at Christmas has had some struggles, but still is a viable institution.

*Local schools.  Many elementary schools have confidential programs for families struggling at Christmas.  If your child is enrolled in an elementary school, they may be bringing home paperwork about such a program.  If not, your child’s school counselor should be able to answer any questions or put in a request.

*Local churches.  This is the time of year when churches are actually looking for activities to put into practice the true meaning of Christmas.  Some churches may not know where to focus their resources.  A call to the church office may be enough to get the ball rolling.  Many times, people find it easier to give when there is a real, live person or family they know about rather than a generic charitable organization.

*Help with energy bills.  Often at Christmas, local electric or gas companies have programs for people who have lower incomes.  Getting a break on at least that expense for a month or two will ease the load.

*Other local agencies.  A look into the yellow pages of your telephone book may help you narrow your search.    The Salvation Army, Rotary Clubs, Lion’s Club, or local hospital’s outreach are all resources.  Some can help with gifts; some with food.

No one wants to be in this situation.  Everybody knows that.  Go ahead and do what you have to do this year.  Next year, you can look forward to being on the giving end.

More about this author: Heidi Peaster

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