The reality of the Christmas Assistance program

Editorial Note: The Sacramento Press is in no way affiliated with any of the organizations mentioned in this article.

Most of us have heard about the Salvation Army’s toy drive for local needy families. Through the media we see a family that is very happy to receive several presents given to children that otherwise would go without. All of this generous charity work begins with expensive marketing, fundraising events, donations, and of course volunteers. The most important part of this charity process is the families with children in need.

     When a family signs up for Christmas assistance from the Salvation Army they must provide certain documents, such as a proof of income, proof of residency, ID, etc. When a family signs up they must go to the Salvation Army sign-up location. The location for this year was on the far side of north Sacramento. Families had to spend the day on a bus in order to reach the sign-up location or, as with most families, have vehicle transportation. That means a family spent at least $6 for an all-day bus pass or they spent approximately $6 for gas depending upon how far they lived from the sign-up location.

     Once the families have completed their sign-up they are very happy and excited in anticipation for what they believe will be a wonderful Christmas for their children. These children are so hopeful and happy that they will now have presents under their Christmas tree, if they even have a tree.

     Now comes the big day that they are all looking forward to picking up their presents. Each of these families that signed up must have a vehicle to go out to Cal Expo and pick up their gifts. That means families who are disadvantaged to the point that they do not own a car will not likely receive any Christmas assistance. If they do not own a car then they may be able to give a friend some gas money for a ride out to Cal Expo to pick up their children’s presents. So far, signing up and picking up the gifts has cost the family approximately $15 – $20. But this process will give children a Christmas, so who cares about how much it will cost? Right?

     When families arrive at Cal Expo to pick up their gifts, they hand their ticket to a volunteer who leaves and returns with a large white plastic bag with the Salvation Army logo on it. Inside of the bag is one new toy with an estimated price of $8 to $10. Also, two additional very small toys, one new and one used toy, estimated price of $5, are included in the bag for a total of three.

     Needless to say, the excitement of a blessed Christmas has dissipated. These two or three unwrapped toys are what that child will receive for Christmas. It is to late for them to look elsewhere for Christmas assistance and what little money they had was probably spent on gas getting to and from Cal Expo.

     I, Sacramento Cmmunity Family Resources know all of this because I helped a family go through the process. I concede that the Salvation Army’s Christmas assistance program is a good program, but I will now personally go out and buy the child some secret Santa toys who would otherwise have a very sad Christmas. I am not sure where the blessing is at when more money is spent getting to and from the Christmas assistance program than is spent on the donated gifts. Maybe some reader feedback can explain the math.

  • Victor Stark,CSW

    I want to follow up on the above article that I wrote. The Salvation Army has several large trucks that go throughout our community to pick up donations. I believe that the Salvation Army could deliver the Christmas assistance toys to local neighborhoods with the same effort that they pick up donations. Another way is that they could choose a local church within each zip code to distribute the gifts. Distributing the gifts within the neighborhoods would allow the most disadvantaged families who have no transportation available to receive Christmas assistance. Hopefully, someone who reads this post will have the means to ask the Salvation Army to consider distributing Christmas Assistance toys to needing children within our communities disadvantaged neighborhoods.

  • My family is in desperate need of some Christmas toys! Like you said those of us in a situation where we cannot travel to sign up and pick up are just out of luck. That is what our family is just out of luck! I am a single mother of three boys ages 16, 7 and 2. The job I had been working at the last 4 years closed there doors leaving us waiting for unemployment to kick in! My boys are such good kids and are deserving of a little something this holiday. This will be the first christmas they will go without and I feel terrible. I know it is Christmas Eve but if you know anywhere you could refer me it would be appreciated. cell# 916-739-0960

    thank you

  • Hello,
    My name is Sarah Mosca and I am the single mother of 4 beautiful children…Eliza 15, Carson 10, Maci 8 and Silas 6. I am requesting possible Christmas assistance for my family this year. I was working as a server trying to support my family, when in September I sustained a broken ankle and was required to take time off. Now, due to my injury, I’ve lost my job and am finding it very difficult to make ends meet. With Christmas coming near, I will be unable to provide my children with gifts. I know Christmas isn’t about gifts, but family. However, I feel awful thinking about how they’ll feel on Christmas morning waking up to no presents. If there is anyone who could help or know of somewhere I could contact, please forward me the information. Any assistance is greatly appreciated. My phone # is (916) 370-6915. Thank You.

    Sarah Mosca

    • Casey Kirk

      Hi Sarah

      The article mentions a directory of resources at this website: The Sacramento Press is not affiliated with the author of this story or any of these organizations he talks about in his articles.

      I would encourage you to visit the website above.


  • Hello my name is Nikisha, I have 7 beautiful children and I am a single parent. I am on ssi which we all know is a fixed income which doesn’t provide much left over for my kids. I’m also in the process of moving so I won’t have the money that will provide my children with a Christmas of any kind so if there is anyone out there who knows of any type of support I can get with this holiday coming please contact me @ Please understand that I have no transportation but am willing to do all that I have to just to make sure my kids have some type of Christmas this year.

  • Hello my name is Patria, I have 5 wonderful kids that are 6,8,12,12 and 13. We have had a really horrible year between my cancer my sons epilepsi and then the topper of the year my son with diabilities got hit by a car doing dmge to his leg causing his dd to take off from work and that mde it hardersince he dont hve much work as it is. I am borrowing my moms internet but if anyone has any ideas of help please call me. 916-240-6552. Thank you and god bless to everyone in this hard time of the year I hope everyone is abloe to have santa this year.

    • Casey Kirk

      Hi everyone,

      The article mentions a directory of resources at this website: The Sacramento Press is not affiliated with the author of this story or any of the organizations mentioned in the article.

  • My name is dennis and I’m a single dis-a-bual person with 4 teens 13,14,15,16, one of my kids with sha-a-bol-pol-ze, and my Kids will not have a christmes this year because all the places that I’ve talk to said my kids were to old, please I’m not asking for toys all they want is some thing to where for school, they don’t even have a jacket for wenter, they don’t even have a back pack to put there books in to, like I’ve said I tried every where I can this is my last chance , if there is any one out there that can help please call Dennis 916 338 1551. I live in Sacramento and there is a lot more to my store I just can’t spell to good

    • Casey Kirk

      Hi Dennis,

      As I mentioned several times in the comments and at the top of the article, we are not affiliated with this article or the organizations mentioned in it. Please reach out to the organization for more information.

  • Hi, My wife and I have recently lost our jobs, We have a 2 year old a 3 year old and a 13 year old. We were too late in signing up for Salvation army or any other organization. as we lost our jobs 3 weeks ago. If there is any kind heart out there that can help us with just a few gifts for our wonderful children. God Bless you. I use to be the one to donate to these charities and now I cant even get help from them. Ive adopted families in the past and just cant find any organization to help give our children some type of Christmas/ Hope. I know Christmas isnt about gifts. But out children dont know that at such a young age. Any help would be appreciated thanks so much. Chris (530)368-3474 12/22/2011

  • High my familys names are joe mindy and our kids are tahlia and joseph whaley do to no jobs in our sacramento econemy its very hard to take care of my childern i do my best but it still hurts . When u cant give your kids new things for christmas And my two children really deserve a good x mas. these two vaery well mannerd kid full of respect . and very good in school .its been really hard due to money keep my kids in foot ball and cheerlesding to keep there cofidence up. If u think u could help us out on christmas . It would really be a blessing to are family I think my kids really deserve a special christmas. This year. thank you and godbless. u can reach our family.At 916-254-3529 or GODBLESS U thanks again.

    • Allison Joy

      Hi Mindy,

      As it has been stated in the comments, we are not affiliated with the organization or the writer and unfortunately, posting your comment here will likely to very little to help your situation. I strongly recommend you visit

  • high joy this is mindy ehmke i looked at the sight u told me but dont know where to applily for extra help during the holidays thank u so much god bless

    • Allison Joy

      Hi Mindy,
      There are a number of links on the right-hand side of your screen when you visit the website, divided into geographical and topical categories. Depending on where you live and the type of aid that you need, click on the appropriate link and it should provide you with some useful information. Good luck to you.

  • Hi my name is joyce anda my husband was mine and our familys provider. He was in a fetal motorcycle accident and bu the grace of god he pulled threw his fractired and bleeding of his skull . He was in icu and the hospital for almost 2 months. He still has alot of memoey loss and confusion. And is unable to go back to work. We are finacally steuggling barley have enuf money for our rent and bills. Please if u can help us email me please god if anyone can help me .

  • my name is Tammy I am a 35 yr old mom with 4 kids. I am a single mom I hate asking for help but I really need it. I am onn work comp and now that hasn exhausted me and my kids lost our home and times are tough I really want my kids to have a Christmas if anyone knows where I can get help please contact me Thank you very much Sincerely Tammy and kids

  • Elizabeth cortez

    Hi I have 3 beautiful girls one on the way I have a 9 year old that just had a kidney transplant she’s doing fine still in the hospital recovering I have a 3year old and a 1year old I’m a single mother if there’s anyone out there that could help me with my daughters so they can have a great Christmas this year I will preciate it


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