Good Gifts for Families in Need

Gifts for Families in Need

Originally posted December 9, 2011

Guest post by  The Prudent Homemaker

Good Gifts for Families In Need

Do you know a family who is unemployed, underemployed, or just having a really tight year this year? Here are some of the best things to leave at their doorstep this Christmas.

1. A box of oranges

Fresh food is a great help to those who are struggling. A family might have boxed and canned goods in their pantry, or they may be getting those items from a food bank, but fresh fruits and vegetables are a much needed luxury item for many. Food is always a great gift. Refrain from giving junk food, however; most families desperately need nutritious items more than they need candy. Apples, oranges, lettuce, carrots, milk, cheese and eggs are especially helpful.

2. A warm blanket

Many families are turning down their heat to keep their bills lower. Some may have periods where they can’t afford to have the heat on at all. Others struggle with inadequate clothing. A warm blanket or two will be a great help. It doesn’t have to be brand-new. Just make sure it’s freshly laundered.

3. Socks, underwear, and gloves

It’s a common misconception that the thing children need most for Christmas is a toy. More useful than several dollar store trinkets are socks, underwear, and gloves. There are many children (and adults) who cannot afford these items at all—and have to go without. Socks can span several sizes, so if you know the approximate size of your recipient’s feet, you can easily include socks in a gift. If you have children the same size and age, you can determine the sizes for underwear. Gloves are usually multi-sized. Besides warm gloves, work gloves—especially for adults and teens—are helpful, whether for bringing in wood or doing other chores.

Sweatpants and sweatshirts are also helpful, especially for families with growing children who are struggling to keep their children warm at night. A package of undershirts is also helpful.

A warm coat may be the dearest wish of many. A used coat is fine. Thrift stores and children’s consignments stores are good sources for inexpensive coats.

4. Items from your stockpile

Any of the following would be helpful:

Hygiene and cleaning items: Toothpaste, toothbrushes, cleaning supplies, laundry soap, stain remover, dish soap, bar soap, baby wipes and diapers (if there is a child in diapers), shampoo, washcloths, toilet paper, tissues, cotton balls and swabs

First aid and sickness items: children’s and adult ibruprofen, throat lozenges, Band-Aids, hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment

Kitchen items: Aluminum foil, plastic wrap, Ziploc bags, muffin papers

5. A gift card or cash

A gift card to a Walmart, Target, or a grocery store can greatly help a family to meet unseen needs (including buying underwear and warm clothing).

A jar of change or other cash may be the best gift of all to a family who is struggling to keep the lights on, the water running, and to keep warm this winter. Even if you just have a small amount to give, it can be the perfect gift.

Is your family unable to make ends meet this year? If someone were to leave a box at your door this Christmas, what would you most hope for it to contain?

Brandy Simper has several ideas for making gifts from items you already have on hand, for a $0 Christmas. She writes about gardening, cooking, frugal living, food storage, sewing, and homeschooling at The Prudent Homemaker( ).

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Heather is the creator and owner of Family Friendly Frugality. She calls Texas home and is married to her best friend. With 2 children 22 months apart, she has her hands full. So full that she decided to start blogging as a hobby. That hobby blew up into a full time job. Now she's got the husband, the kids and the blog. We're not exactly sure what she was thinking, but she's too busy for us to ask. Find Me On Google +

17 thoughts on “Good Gifts for Families in Need”

  1. This is a GREAT list!! Being on the needy end in the past our family would have been extremely grateful for any of these to show up on our doorstep! Toys are nice, but when you have no money it’s the necessities you need!

  2. Great Ideas. The bestgift we were given when we were struggling was a grocery store gift card. Then I could use it to fill in gaps from our storage and buy milk and fruit.

  3. Great post! All of those items would be a blessing to any home!
    Love that pretty box of oranges! —-People don’t think that’s important anymore, but it is. My kids LOVED a Christmas service that we went to one year where they passed out paper bags with an apple, orange, nuts, 3 pieces of chocolate, and a candy cane. It was a BIG deal to them to have their own apple and orange to eat whenever they wanted!

  4. I’ve been thinking about picking up a couple of gift cards for our local grocery store just to have on hand!

    Thanks for the ideas!

  5. Love those ideas! We’ve been trying to do less for ourselves and more for others in my house so these give me some great ideas! And my stockpile is an open grocery store for most which is what I love the most about being a couponer

  6. I love these ideas! And it’s great that the items that can help the most are so very easy to put together for someone who’s struggling. I’ll definitely be incorporating these items into this year’s donations.

  7. I actually “adopted” a family with four kids this year for Christmas. I’m planning on buying them each a little something fun for them and then a gift card somewhere so they can buy things that they need. We’ve been lucky and my husband has great job security, we have a roof over our head, food in our bellies and can pay our bills…which sadly, some people just cannot do. I just wish there was more I could do.

  8. This is why I follow your blog. You don’t just hand out money saving ideas, you point out that as we save, we can and should give to others from our own blessings.


  9. As a mom of two that is just barely (and sometimes can’t without begging help from parents) making the basic bills; this is a wonderful post. When I was young our stocking had onrage apple and a banana in it. Id love to be able to do that for mine esp as the youngest (2) likes fruit. Those are all great ideas on the list. (I try to fill in the gaps with 2nd hand items, freebies, giveaway prizes etc)

  10. As a person who has been in need in the past I can tell this was written by someone who hasn’t really been there. When you are down you have to go through so many dehumanizing things like filing for food stamps. At least there are the debit cards that look like credit cards you use now. The old food stamps were horrible. They also restrict what you can buy. We all need personal items. Nice toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, soap ,razors, deodorant, laundry detergent and fabric softener. Yes a box of oranges is nice, however what child would not rather have a cookie, cheese curls, potatoes chips, chex mix. Some junk food helps to ease the pain and restrictions being poor has on children. As adults we understand and tolerate what we have to, but it is the children who feel the pain and stigma the most. I have talked to many in need families about this. The parents often say they wish they had the extra $2.75 to spare to get that pack of Oreo cookies or goldfish crackers for their children. They put that little bit of money to necessities for the family. They know that pack of cookies could be such a morale booster, but they can’t take away from the greater good for them. Many food pantries now have fresh fruit and veggies. Bakery goods, meats and junk foods are never in stock or are grabbed up as soon as they are put out. Consider what you wanted when you were a child. The best items you can donate are gift cards allowing the family some freedom to purchase what they want or need. The other items I mentioned, adding Kleenex to that list. Allergy, cold and flu season are here and that is another item we take for granted. Day old bakery goods. That giant box of bakers dozen honey glazed donuts for a dollar goes a long way in filling stomachs and boosting morale. If you would have liked it as a child it is a great thing to donate. Whatever you donate will be deeply appreciated, just donate with compassion of want as well as need in mind. Just please donate. So many are depending on you. Consider holding a neighborhood food drive for your local food pantry or Council of Churches. The winter months are the worse with much greater demand. No child should have to go to bed hungry. Just please give. Thank you

    1. The writer does list all toiletries in her post. And she does say that is it a start and then asks for other ideas. To make snide comments about “not knowing what it’s like” was unnecessary. People do NOT need to help others in need so when she gives suggestions you don’t need to be rude. Also, having been very poor and raised in the projects for a part of my life if the parents would teach better food advice and not buy junk their bellies would be full longer.

  11. I really appreciate this post. Especially the one from Kate. For several years our family – including my mom, sister, cousins have joined another family in taking items to a small area of KY just before Christmas. The first year was an eyeopener. We had made stockings and filled them with treats for the kids, bought clothing. We had spent quite a bit of money on what we thought families needed. After talking to families, who thanked us for all we brought. I asked what they really needed. The pastor smiled and said food. The trucks had stopped coming to this area and the coal mine had laid off another 50 men + all those who were already without jobs.
    It was also so cold that first year. They had brought in special trucks to clear the road for our truck and vehicles to make it up the mountain. Children, adults without hats, gloves & coats – broke our hearts.

    Each year we have expanded our efforts…

    Last year we were able to have garage sales to help us purchase food for the boxes (53 boxes!). Sugar, flour, Veg. oil, pasta and sauce, treat, salt, pepper, canned goods, jello, cookies and candy! We also had gloves, hats, blankets and scarves.

    Wish we could do more. This is our Christmas. Hard to believe here in America, children are cold and hungry. Look around and help others. May God bless you.

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