How to Apply for Christmas Help for Low Income Families

Planning for a happy Christmas for your family is challenging if you feel you lack the financial resources to celebrate properly with your children. The fact is that many not-for-profit agencies in cities and towns across the United States recognize this reality. Many of these organizations band together during the holiday season to offer special assistance to low-income families desiring to celebrate the special time of year. Accessing these programs requires that you understand the typical application process.

A young boy is opening a Christmas gift. (Image: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images)

Step 1

Contact the local or regional office of the United Way. The national headquarters for the United Way provides this information and can be reached by going to to find your local chapter.

Step 2

Ask a representative of the local or regional United Way about a "Christmas Bureau" or community-based, low-income holiday assistance program.

Step 3

Obtain from the agency the dates and locations of where you and your family can sign up to participate in the program.

Step 4

Go to the application site provided on one of the dates of operation. Typically, applications are taken over the course of approximately a week about two to three weeks before the Christmas holiday.

Step 5

Complete the application provided at the site. The application asks for basic information about your family's income, the ages of each member of your family and for an itemization of your basic needs. These programs usually provide a family with food as well as gifts for children.

Step 6

Submit the application at the site. You will be told whether your family qualifies for the program at that time.

Step 7

Ask for the date and time when you can pick up the food and other items for the holiday. Distributions normally occur the week of Christmas. Delivery to shut-ins usually is provided.


If you do not have access to a United Way agency in your general area, churches and local not-for-profit human services agencies likely maintain information about Christmas programs for low income families. The Salvation Army and Catholic Charities are examples of these types of organizations. Additionally, county and state social services agencies usually have this information as well.

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