The holiday season is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. But between gifts, decorations, food, and events, it can also be the most expensive. If paying for presents has you feeling more “bah humbug” than gleeful this year, there are places you can go to get free toys for Christmas.
This article will highlight charity Christmas assistance programs, reuse options, clever shopping tips, and more ways for strapped parents to access free toys and gifts.
Spread some joy this season without blowing your budget! Keep reading to learn where you can find free toys for kids this Christmas.
Can Charities Provide Free Christmas Toys for Children in Need?
Charities across the country work year-round collecting toy donations from generous givers. These gifts go to children whose families are facing financial hardships or other difficulties that limit their ability to provide ample Christmas presents.
Local branches of national charities along with community programs often help match children in need with donated toys and gifts so they have presents to open this holiday season.
Here are some top charities providing free Christmas toys and gifts:
Toys for Tots
Run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, Toys for Tots collects new, unwrapped toys suitable for kids up to age 12 (sometimes older children depending on the local branch). Families needing assistance can visit the Toys for Tots website to find and contact their local campaign.
After providing eligibility documentation, parents can access the toys to give their children this Christmas morning.
The Salvation Army
Another well-known charity, The Salvation Army runs seasonal programs like Angel Trees and Adopt a Family at Christmastime. Local Salvation Army corps centers collect donor gifts and donations to distribute items like toys, clothes, and sometimes even food baskets to financially struggling households.
Interested families can visit or call their nearest Salvation Army location, typically starting in early fall, to sign up to receive assistance.
Operation Christmas Child
Operation Christmas Child collects shoeboxes packed with toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement. Donors prepare and drop off boxes, then churches distribute them to children in need across the U.S. and the globe.
If your family could benefit from receiving boxes, check with local churches to see if they’re distribution centers.
Prison Fellowship Angel Tree
The Prison Fellowship Angel Tree program allows incarcerated parents to register their children to receive Christmas gifts on their behalf. Churches and community groups "adopt" registrants to purchase appropriate toys and clothes.
Incarcerated parents must sign up directly through their facilities. Outside relatives cannot refer children.
With branches across the U.S., Catholic Charities provides aid to families in need year-round. Several chapters run Christmas adopt-a-family toy drives where donors can fulfill local kids' wish lists.
Contact your nearest center to ask about holiday assistance programs and sign up.
While best known for fulfilling once-in-a-lifetime experiences for critically ill children, Make-A-Wish also offers more modest Christmas gift programs. Kids facing life-threatening medical conditions who list toys or family Christmas celebrations among their wishes can receive assistance.
Have a loved one, medical provider or other adult nominate an eligible child through their referral form.
Be An Elf
This program partners with USPS Operation Santa. Volunteers "adopt" letters sent to Santa by families facing financial hardship asking for help providing gifts for their kids. After adoption, the elf then purchases appropriate items and arranges delivery before Christmas.
Families in need can address letters to Santa's workshop asking for assistance (include ages, interests, clothing sizes etc. for children) then mail them off hoping they'll get adopted!
Firefighters 4 Kids - Columbus OH
The nonprofit Firefighters 4 Kids features toy dropoffs where donors can contribute new, unwrapped toys for kids ages 12 and under throughout the year. Come wintertime, firefighters distribute the gifts to children who could use some extra holiday joy.
Check their site for local toy drive events coming up.
Where Can Low Income Families Find Used Toys Given Away for Free?
For families not facing dire financial situations but still looking to save on costs, secondhand toys that are still in great shape can make excellent free gifts.
Check out these options for scoring reused, recycled or repurposed playthings for your kids this holiday season:
- Host a toy swap with friends and neighbors
- Peruse Craigslist and Facebook Buy Nothing groups
- Search Freecycle classifieds for free children's items
- Check charity thrift stores for lightly used products
Ask around, keep an eye on resale boards, or organize a toy exchange event. You can often find just-as-nice toys that others are giving away.
How Can Smart Shopping Score Discounted or Free Kids Toys?
Even stores selling brand-new toys offer opportunities around the holidays to grab major discounts, score promos and save big on a special Christmas gift:
- Stack coupons and loyalty rewards for percentage or dollar-off deals
- Price match competitors for the lowest guaranteed pricing
- Ask about discounts for charitable donations or volunteering
- Check discount stores, like Ollie's toy sections, to save money on brand toys
Buying secondhand also stretches your dollar significantly further compared to brand-new toys at higher retail prices.
Find Christmas Assistance Through Eliminating Your Monthly Cell Phone Bill
Save Up to $600 a Year on Cell Bills = More Holiday Funds
Worried about affording both Christmas and your monthly cell phone bill?
Here’s a simple way to save up to $600 per year: enroll in FREE cell phone service.
Government programs Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program are government programs that offer special discounts on cell phone plans. Over 40% of U.S. households qualify based on income thresholds or participation in certain government assistance programs.
EASY Wireless uses these discounts to create FREE cell phone plans using the same nationwide cell towers as major carriers. Except without their sky-high monthly rates.
With FREE cell service, you continue enjoying calling, texting, and mobile broadband data. Plus you save hundreds of dollars every year for presents or anything your family may need.
Enroll with EASY Wireless
See if you qualify with EASY Wireless and ditch your cell bill for good this holiday season. Find out in minutes if you meet eligibility guidelines. The gift of free cell service means more jingle in your pocket all season long!
Start Saving Today!
Get a New Tablet for Only $10.99*
If you qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) you are eligible to receive a 1-time special discount on a brand-new tablet from EASY Wireless**. You can purchase one of these tablets at one of our retail locations or call (877) 476-3451.
Give the tablet as a great gift for a family member.
*plus applicable sales taxes
** only 1 tablet per ACP-eligible household across all ACP Providers
The Takeaway: Keep the Focus on Each Other, Not Just Free Stuff
While presents should still delight little ones on Christmas morning, the greatest gift we can give our families is our presence and active engagement. This year, try out some of the many avenues for finding free or low-cost toys listed here. Maybe set a spending limit and use creative savings to hunt small thoughtful items your children mentioned in passing.