How to Help Create a Special Christmas for Needy Families

During this time of year our hearts warms and go out to those who are struggling. We may know a family or two that can’t afford Christmas presents a Christmas tree or even basics to get by on, like food or heat. Reaching out to help is often a delicate matter and may not be easy. Sometimes this deters us from wanting to help. So what is a good way to help a person or family in need without making things uncomfortable or offending them? Read over these tips on how to best help a needy family this year.

Enlist the help of Santa Claus

Talk to a friend or family member that is willing to dress up like Santa and help deliver food, presents, a tree or whatever else you decide to gift the family in need. Kids love the surprise of seeing Santa at their door and in a way, parents do too. Parents’ pride can easily be bruised if they feel like they have to accept help from others because people believe they cannot provide for their family. However, santa is neutral territory. They don’t have to feel ashamed or looked down on by someone they know in the community, since Santa’s job is to bring presents to all. It may even be helpful to have Santa say that he has a busy night visiting many other families in the community.

A Personalized Gift Goes A Long Way

It is no surprise that gifts have greater significance to someone when it was specifically chosen for them. Even though you may not know the family well, try to find some information about each child in the family to personalize their presents. It is much more meaningful to receive a gift with a tag that says “Taylor, hope you make the soccer team this year” instead of “Boy - 10 - Soccerball.” What children need more than a gift at Christmas is to know that they matter to someone, that they are not forgotten.

A Warm Meal Warms the Belly and Soul

Helping a family in need with basics like food frees them up to cover other necessary expenses like gas for the car or the electric bill. It also allows parents some extra wiggle room with their finances so that they can pick a present out for their children for Christmas. Many loving parents want to have the ability to show their children love by picking out a special gift for them. However, their responsibilities in some circumstances do not afford them this luxury. I believe there are few greater charitable things that one can do than helping to cultivate a loving home environment and enabling a child to feel loved by their parents.

Ideas for a Christmas Dinner Basket

Depending on how well you know the family, you may want to consider preparing a cooked meal and then having Santa take it over to the family early in the afternoon one day before Christmas. This helps the family save on the cost of electricity to cook the meal. Also, some parents may not have the knowhow, time, or energy to cook a Christmas dinner. This way, the children in the family are more likely to get a nutritious, warm meal for the holidays. However, there are times where a cooked meal may not be appropriate or perhaps it is not welcomed for safety reasons. If you feel it is best to err on the side of caution, then putting together a Christmas dinner basket is a great alternative. This chart helps give some ideas of what to include in the dinner basket.
Main Dish Sides Dessert Extras
Precooked ham or frozen turkey, roasting pan, pop up disposable thermometer, and turkey bag. Canned cranberry sauce, stuffing mix (bag or box), and 5 lbs bag of potatoes or boxed potatoes. Pumpkin pie filling, premade pie crust, disposable pie pan, powder whipped cream topping mix, hot chocolate mix, bag of chocolates, candy canes, and holiday cookies. Napkins, paper towels, paper plates, plastic utensils, and plastic cups.

Ideas for a General Food Basket

You can also give the family some non-perishable food items that will last through the holidays. When school gets out for winter break, it sometimes can becomes harder for parents to provide an extra meal for their children (many children get free lunches at school). It would also be a welcomed relief to get some basic toiletries that parents often cannot afford. This chart gives some ideas of what you could include in a non-perishable food basket.
Protein Vegetables Fruit Rice, Grains, & Pasta
Canned chicken, chili, baked beans, canned or dried red beans, canned tuna, dried lentils, canned salmon, canned shrimp, canned sardines, soups, stews, and peanut butter (and jelly). Corn, peas, mixed vegetables, green beans, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes. Canned peaches, pineapple, fruit cocktail, and pears. Applesauce, figs bars, and fruit juices (juice boxes for little kids). Flavoured rice mixes, plain rice, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti (and sauce), canned ravioli, cereals, oatmeal, grits, porridge, pancake mix (and bottle of maple syrup), and granola bars.
Healthy Nonperishable Snacks Baby Items Condiments & Sweets Toiletries & Extras
Nuts, popcorn, and dried fruit (raisins, apricots, banana chips) Baby food jars, powder formula, cheerios, teething biscuits, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream, and hand sanitizer. Mayonnaise (in plastic container), ketchup, mustard, butter, salt and pepper, cake mix (and frosting), cookies, and bagged hard candies. Paper plates, paper towels, plastic cups, plastic utensils, dish soap, scrubbers, toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, hand soap, body soap, shampoo, conditioner, brush and comb, and feminine hygiene products.

Sign up a Family for the Toys for Tots Program

Some people may not feel comfortable personally donating something to a family directly. And in this case, there is still a way to help. You can sign the family in need up for the Toys for Tots Program. All you need to do is go to the Toys for Tots website. Then click on the Request Toys link at the top of the page. You will be directed to a drop down menu where you can then select the state and county where the family you are trying to help resides. Once you have a selected a state and county, you will be presented with a name of the person in charge of the local campaign center, along with a link. Click on this link and provide the requested information. This will generally include:
  • Your name and the family's name.
  • Proof of residency
  • A brief opportunity to explain why that family needs to receive a Toys for Tots Christmas present.
  • Other possible identifying information
Hopefully you now feel there is a comfortable way to help a family in need this Christmas. Giving to others is a rewarding experience that truly brings the joy of Christmas into our hearts.