How To Find Free Toys for Kids this Christmas and Holiday Season—Apply Soon!

Many organizations are distributing free toys for kids in need this holiday season.
Many organizations are distributing free toys for kids in need this holiday season.

With the holidays around the corner, many nonprofits are gearing up to organize the distribution of free toys to ensure that the 2021 holiday season is joyful for struggling families. Here's a list of organizations that are distributing free toys to needy kids this holiday season. Note that deadlines are fast approaching, so be sure to reach out early if you need a little help this year.

If you aren't struggling and want your family to start a tradition of giving, pick a group and reach out and ask how you can help those in need by sending free toys or offering other assistance.

Where to find free toys santa delivers for Toys for Tots
Toys for Tots has distributed free toys to children for decades. Photo courtesy of Toys for Tots

Toys for Tots

For decades, the Marine Toys for Tots Program has collected and distributed new toys to less fortunate children at Christmas. Applications to receive toys can be filled out online. First, find out if your local chapter is accepting applications for toys by using the search engine; the chapter's page will have links to family and agency toy applications. 

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army offers a variety of services to those in need. Among them is the Rescue Christmas program, which many of us associate with those iconic red kettles and jingling bells. Donations help provide shelter, food assistance, and other services to the needy, but there's also the Angel Tree Program, in which donors purchase gifts to fulfill the angel wishes on the tree. To apply, start with the online application process or contact your local chapter.

Wilbert Manigault International Ministries Inc.

This group spreads holiday cheer and gifts to low-income families in three different locations: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Columbia, South Carolina; and Atlanta, Georgia. Click on the state's holiday give-a-thon page to register.

Send a letter to Operation Santa
Adopt a letter from a real kid and send gifts in Santa’s place through USPS Operation Santa. Photo courtesy of Operation Santa

USPS Operation Santa

Each year, thousands of letters are sent to Santa from children around the country through the Post Office. Those sent to a specific North Pole address are posted online, where anyone can read them and adopt a letter writer to shop for.

Operation Homefront

Operation Homefront’s Holiday Toy Drive helps bring holiday cheer to military families. Start by registering for an account. When you are eligible for the event, it will appear on your Dashboard and you can register to attend. Also, keep an eye on the events calendar for the goings-on near you.

Catholic Charities lends a helping hand
Catholic Charities helps families in need during the holiday season. Photo courtesy of Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities offers Christmas assistance to families that need help, with local offices providing services based on the needs of their communities. Go to the national site, search for your local chapter, and reach out to get the help you need.

United Way

United Way's local offices work hard to ensure that all families experience some joy during the holiday season. To get help, enter your zip code to search for your local chapter and contact it for more information.

Santa's Little Helpers

This Reddit community aims to buy gifts for those who may not otherwise have the means. Those with a Reddit account who want to apply can make an Amazon wish list (items totaling less than $100), fill out an application, and, if approved, write a post to the community about your needs.

Other Resources for Free Toys for Kids this Holiday Season:

  • Local churches can be good resources to tap. Many help families in need for the holidays.
  • Local Buy Nothing Facebook groups and Freecycleare great places to find free second-hand toys.
  • Local chapters of the Lion's Club and other similar service-focused groups often host toy drives.
  • Food pantries sometimes stock small toys for children.

Main photo: Kids Opening Presents On Christmas Morning by Joe Shlabotnik is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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