Help for the Holidays

Charitable requests have risen in the past few years and organizations are struggling to reach everyone. The demand for help is so high, some of these organizations close applications for holiday help, including Thanksgiving meals, as early as August. Please contact them early.
If you miss the deadlines, a shelter, food bank or local church is your best bet to get a little holiday assistance. Many churches will reach out around the holiday season. Each one has a different method of requesting assistance. Request for food and shelter are always greater in the winter, because of the cold.

If you want to help, I have lists of food banks, shelters and toy donation services that could use the time, goods and money. These lists are also good places to find help. Some of them help individuals directly, others only help organizations.  Some of these places do provide emergency assistance to those in need.

You can contact each organization for more information and application deadlines.

Salvation Army Angel Tree

The Salvation Army angel tree is one of my favorite ways to give every year at Christmastime. The Salvation Army asks screened families to fill out a "wish list" and you can fulfil it for a child in need. The kids request clothes, coats and normally a toy of some kind. For example, some kids ask for bikes, some for an mp3 player. You have a chance look at the lists before you choose a child, so you can pick items that meet a variety of price ranges.

If you want to donate: Part of the fun is going to the mall and choosing your angel. The angels are separated into age groups. The angels are available at many Wal-Mart locations and at Park Plaza and McCain Malls. You can also adopt online. You have to deliver the toys, unwrapped, to the Salvation Army or the site where you chose your angel.

If you need help: The Salvation Army's Angel Tree program takes applications for two weeks in October. Those who qualify for applications are low-income families with children younger than twelve years old or families who need help providing food during the holidays. Qualified families can apply to get help with their Christmas gifts for children and food boxes. The Salvation Army has a very strict deadline, and they only help a limited number of families. The Salvation Army requires you to apply for your child to be an angel in person, call 501-374-9296 for more details or visit 1505 N. 18th Street.  More.

The United Way

The United Way provides free holiday food and toy assistance to qualified candidates.They usually do a special Christmas luncheon where they feed kids, let them meet Santa and provide each with a wrapped gift and toy. It's a pretty fun event for kids, and they serve about 450 kids each year. Call 501-376-4567.

For the past few years, the United Way has teamed up with the Peabody to do a big event for underprivileged kids where the kids get a meal, get to meet the ducks and a get a wrapped gift. Other than this event, the United Way provides holiday meals and toys to kids.

If you want to donate: Call the main office to find out what they need, 501-376-4567.

If you need help: Visit their website to find out about their services or call 501-376-4567. More

Toys For Tots

Toys for Tots is a U.S. Marine Corps charity that collects new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December annually for Christmas. Most of us who have lived in Little Rock for a while know the big motorcycle parade near War Memorial Stadium's Toy Hill. Toy Hill has moved to the Clear Channel Metroplex, 10800 Colonel Glenn Road, but they still do a big event every year.

If you want to donate: You can donate new unwrapped toys at the Clearchannel Metroplex from Nov 30 - Dec 2.  More.

If you need help: This year toys for tots is not taking requests from individuals, but working with many organizations. A list of organizations and contact information can be found on their website. These organizations all have different deadlines for requests, so call early.  They also all have different requirements for receiving aid, so if you don't qualify for one, try another


You can find some pretty awesome stuff on Freecycle, and it's all free. During the holidays, you have to act fast, but sometimes they have things like bikes, coats and some other neat stuff. Clothing is really popular, and sometimes electronics items. They might not be the most up-to-date items, but it's worth checking out. Craigslist is another place to find free or inexpensive items. More

Thrift Stores

You can get some great deals on toys and clothes in thrift stores. I recommend the big Goodwill on 109 Markham Park Drive. It's a very large store and the prices on some things are very reasonable.  There are plenty of others to choose from.  Toys in Goodwill go pretty fast at Christmas, but if you inquire at the individual stores, they may be able to tell you when is the best time to check for new offerings. More

Local Food Banks and Pantries

Many churches and organizations will give you a holiday meal for free.  The Arkansas Foodbank has a great search tool to find one near you. More.

Youth Home's Dove Tree

The Dove Tree is similar to the Angel Tree but sponsored by Youth Home, a private, non‐profit psychiatric treatment center. Youth helps emotionally troubled adolescents and their families become healthier, contributing members of the community.

If you want to donate: A dove tree is a small Christmas tree decorated with gift tag ornaments that list specific Christmas wishes for the adolescents and teens at Youth Home. For more information, contact Youth Home at 501-821-5500.

If you need help: To participate, teens must already be admitted to the facility, but if your family has a troubled teen, call 501-821-5500 for information.

The Little Rock Compassion Center

The Compassion Center does more than toys, they also provide food, clothing and shelter if needed. In 2010, they fed more than seven hundred people a holiday meal at their shelter and gave away 350 food boxes.

If you want to donate: The Little Rock Compassion Center takes monetary donations online or they accept volunteers. They also take food, thrift store and toy donations. Call 501-296-9114

If you need help: Visit their website to find out about their services or call 501-296-9114. More »

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