Holiday Help For Single Parents

The holidays are supposed to be a time of happiness and cheer, but for many single parents, they are a time of dread. It's not easy to provide gifts and holiday meals that meet media-driven expectations on a budget that can barely handle day to day expenses, and none of us want our children to feel disappointed. There is help out there, though. Every year, grateful families receive assistance from people and organizations that understand the financial strain of the festive season. Many people are kind enough to donate time or money to programs that seek to provide a happy holiday season for every child. A financially stressed single parent family can receive gifts for children, food, medical assistance, help with the heating bill, and more.

Let's take a look at some of the options for single parents who are looking to brighten the season for themselves and their children.

Toys for Tots
Sign up for Toys for Tots! This US Marine Corps program is designed to help every child experience the joy of opening presents on Christmas. The campaign has multiple offices throughout the U.S. They accept donations of toys and money to help families in need. Most sites can offer one large and one small gift for newborn children up to age 12 and in some cases up to age 16.

Signing up for Toys for Tots is easy. Visit the link provided at the end of this article to go right to their “Select a State” page. Enter your state and choose your city or county. The site will direct you to your local Toys for Tots website. Click the “Request a Toy” button found near the top of the screen, which provides the name and contact link for your local Toys for Tots coordinator. Follow the instructions to email the coordinator and register to receive free toys for your children.

The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army has been helping people in need since 1865, in over 100 countries. In addition to the year-round services they provide, they also offer seasonal assistance that can help with holiday meals, clothing, heating bills, and more. If you are a single parent who would benefit from financial aid from the Salvation Army, please follow the link found at the end of this article. Enter your zip code to receive a list of Salvation Army centers in your area and the services they offer. Find a location that provides seasonal assistance and contact their office to speak with someone. You can contact some of the locations online, but many offer only a telephone number. Don't hesitate to call!

Each Salvation Army center determines eligibility according to its own criteria. Email or call yours to discuss programs that could benefit your family.

Lions Club
Not every family will be able to afford a Thanksgiving or Christmas feast. Lions Clubs have been providing support to single-parent households for the holidays for nearly 100 years. Their projects and programs have been serving local communities, providing children with free toys and boxes of food.

Use the club locator tool at the end of the article to participate in the program this year. You can use the link to go to the “Find a Club” page. Enter your city and click on search, and you will see listings matching your area. Next to the Club's information is an envelope where you can email them your contact information and ask for holiday assistance.

The Moose Fraternity
Since 1888, Moose Lodges have been servicing communities by caring for children and teens. Moose members run Christmas assistance programs that celebrate life by giving free toys for kids located within their local communities. They have been known to drop off boxes of food to the homes of single parents during the holidays. Some local Lodges have gathered donated Christmas toys and partnered with other local organizations to offer a storefront setting for parents to come and shop for gifts.

To select a Moose Lodge or Chapter you need to enter your city. A map will show you all of the ones near you. Send an email describing your financial situation and your contact information, or follow the link to their direct website for further assistance.

Help with Energy Bills
The months ahead are getting cooler. Your heating costs are going up, and your budget is suffering. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program can help heat your home this winter. This program offers grant assistance to help you pay your energy bills and pay for low-cost repairs that will make your home more energy-efficient. Every dollar that's cut off your power bill is a dollar you can spend to bring a happier holiday to your family!

LIHEAP is administered at the state level, and each state has its own criteria and procedures. Some states have applications online, in others you will apply at a county-level office. The office staff will ask questions about your income and expenses, family members living in the home, and who services the home with gas and electricity. You should be prepared to submit documents verifying your income and major expenses. If your state's application is not online, follow the link at the end of the article to find your local Low Income Energy Office and stay warm this year.

Gas Grants
High gas prices can affect the amount you can afford to spend this holiday season. There is no need to miss out on buying gifts for the kids. Apply for a gas grant! Free Gas USA is a nonprofit organization providing grants to help financially stressed families meet their transportation expenses. Every month, a recipient is awarded a gift of $50 to $1,200 to use for basic transportation needs.

To apply for a grant, you must have a referral letter from a Social Worker, Case Manager or Pastor to verify your vehicle ownership, proof of insurance and federal income status. The two-page application contains 15 yes or no questions that will determine whether or not you are qualified for assistance. Follow the link at the end of the article to go directly to their questionnaire and application pages.

Everyone Deserves a Happy Holiday
If you are a single parent who would benefit from holiday assistance, please consider the programs described in this article. Many of us need to ask for help at times; the good news is that there are so many people who understand and are willing to help. Use as many of the links below to receive food, get free toys, and free up money by lowering your bills. Use them to provide your family with a happy holiday season this year.

Resource Links

Toys for Tots
Salvation Army
Lions Club Locator
Find A Moose Lodge
Free Gas USA Application
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
Free Gas USA