Christmas day is near. We’re down to weeks now. Every parent wants to see the look of joy on their child’s face when they open the gift they’ve wanted all year. As Christmas grows closer, the pressure for the money becomes suffocating. The gifts and toys are pushed to the back-burner in the face of more pressing hurdles like the utilities and the rent.
Personally, I understand the struggle to keep the joyous Christmas spirit alive when the hope of seeing that wonderful, bright look on your child’s face grows dimmer and dimmer with each passing day. But you must remember that you are NEVER alone. There is always help especially during Christmas season. Millions of families are struggling year in and year out, and the pressure of Christmas only makes the struggle seem that much harder. There are resources for those families, and you can believe there are resources for you too.
Christmas Assistance Program
The Salvation Army’s Christmas Assistance Program helps thousands of families consistently every year, and they want to help you too. There are millions of dollars donated each and every year to help aid families in need, seniors, and the homeless.
Christmas dinners, warm, winter clothing, and toys are all provided and made possible through donations and financial assistance. Plus, shelters are open for sit-down dinners. Volunteers administer gifts to patients in hospitals and to our elders in nursing homes as well. The Salvation Army works to make sure the true meaning of Christmas is never forgotten by bringing love and hope to those it serves.
There are a few separate causes included in the Christmas Assistance Program as a whole. Those few include:
- The Angel Giving Tree
- Toy Shop
- Gift Packs
The Angel Giving Tree
The Angel Giving Tree is a wonderful program that provides clothes and toys to families in need. There are some cities that have age limits generally between 0 months through eleven years. Registration for the Angel Giving Tree is already open in most locations. I recommend you visit your local Salvation Army for information on registration times and dates.
Toy shop is temporarily set up in December every year. If you are signed up for the Angel Tree, you can choose the toys your children will receive during the Christmas season. Toy Shop isn’t available in every city. As I said earlier, I recommend you go to your local location to find out what all of your options are.
Every year volunteers set out to bring the joy of Christmas to nursing homes and prison inmates by distributing gift packs and spreading the love of Christ.
The Salvation Army pairs families and seniors with sponsors that provide help during the Christmas season. Your sponsor is given details about your family including gender/ages of the children, sizes, Christmas wish lists, and food that is needed. They then deliver food, clothes, and gifts to your home. Make sure the children are too busy to notice their gifts being delivered.
How to Join the Christmas Assistance Program
If you are interested in the Christmas Assistance Program, you must register. Most locations begin registration as early as October, so it’s advised that you contact your local Salvation Army as soon as you can to inquire about registration dates. Every location is different with the times and places of registration, so it is very important that you understand that you must go through your local Salvation Army center. Anything that is happening in other cities and states do not apply to you. Contact your local center and inquire after programs, financial assistance, dates and times, and any other questions you may have.
The Salvation Army’s Christmas Program is its largest outreach event. There are locations in every state, and there is more than likely a location in your city. If you do not have a location in your city or county, you are welcome to go to the next one nearest to you.
Exact terms and conditions vary from state to state. Generally, upon the date of registration, you will need:
- Picture identification
- Proof of total household income (recent paycheck stubs)
- Social security cards for all family members
- Proof of residency (phone bill, utility bill, any form of mail in your name will do)
Your eligibility for assistance is determined by your Salvation Army center. There are income guidelines based on family size that, as an applicant, you have to meet.
There are always options
Toys and food is sometimes not the only things provided for you. The Salvation Army helps pay utilities and provides other financial assistance during the Christmas season. There are very many families that receive help months after the Christmas season is over.
I understand how hard it is. There is always a moment when you’re forced to weigh the importance of food on the table versus toys under the tree. You might not have even mentioned Christmas to your children in the hopes of avoiding the situation. You might hope that if you don’t say anything, they’ll forget. It doesn’t have to be that way. The Salvation Army works very hard, consistently, to make sure that everyone in need is aided.
Christmas is an important part of childhood, and it should never have to be compromised. This way, it doesn’t have to be. This way, the stress of the season is lifted to allow for the true meaning of Christmas, the true meaning of family, and the true meaning of care.