With this turbulent and unforgiving economy every family is tightening the purse strings over the holidays. Turkeys are a little smaller, the gifts are a little fewer, but for families who struggle the whole rest of the year, the holidays can be incredibly rough. Thankfully in the Seattle area, there are lots of ways to lend a helping hand to families and kids who really need it.

has been providing East King County families with emergency assistance since 1971. They have a wide range of ways you can give on their website from holding a food drive, to donating cash that’s pledged to specific charitable actions. And at their Holiday Giving Centers, you can donate new toys, clothes and food (Hint: Gifts & clothes for teens are especially needed!).

Wellspring Family Services
Providing a Holiday Toy Room for homeless families, Wellspring Family Services invites the public to bring new, unwrapped toys, and grocery & gift cards to their Holiday Open House on December 3rd from 10:00am to 3:00pm. Tour their new location and learn about the services they have provided in the Seattle area for over 100 years. The open house will feature live children’s music from Caspar Babypants & crafts too – fun for the whole family!

Overlake Service League
Overlake Service League provided over 1,600 struggling families with Christmas assistance last year and have found sponsors for all of their families this year already! But OSL still needs lots of help to get them to the giving finish line this holiday season, so check their website to see what items they still need, and if you’re free – Christmas gift delivery drivers are always in high demand.

United Way of King County
If you need help finding a charity in your area, United Way of King County provides you an opportunity to give to a variety of causes. You can donate on a monthly basis or as a one time Holiday gift to help end homelessness, to give aid to children in need, or to the Parent-Child Home Program. Either way, you can be confident you’re giving to an excellent cause and that $.97 of each dollar goes directly to helping others.

More than 25% of the King County children in foster care will never return home. Treehouse, set up in 1988, exists to provide these children with the little extras that make childhood memorable for all the good reasons. Treehouse programs help provide fees for extra-curricular programs and summer camp, as well as items such as clothing and supplies. You can get involved or donate to help make kids’ lives a little better.

St. Joseph’s Baby Corner
St. Joseph’s Baby Corner
, affiliated with St. Joseph’s Church, offers resources for families who are working and still struggling to provide childcare support. Donations are key to helping the families involved with Baby Corner. Any lightly used children’s clothes and toys are very welcome, as well as formula or diapers. You can also help by volunteering or becoming involved with a Crib Community.

Eastside Baby Corner
For Eastsiders wanting to get involved locally, Eastside Baby Corner, based in Issaquah also welcomes donations. They are happy to also take crib and car seats less than six years old and in good condition; however, large stuffed animals and large toys are difficult to store due to space considerations, so they ask you nicely not to bring such items.

is a non-profit organization that focuses on finding permanent homes for children in foster care (known as “foster-to-adopt”) and infants relinquished to the agency’s care. The agency also provides pregnancy and parenting counseling to birth parents facing an unintended pregnancy. Amara provides families with the education, support and guidance they need to welcome and embrace vulnerable children, and to sustain healthy, well-bonded families.  Amara often needs to provide infant supplies to new birth parents who need additional support to begin their lives as parents and so welcomes donations of any items listed on the WishList on Amara’s Web site.

More Organizations We Love:

The Seattle Milk Fund 
In action in the Seattle area for almost 100 years, the Seattle Milk fund helps families and individuals to get back on their feet in times of crisis such as abuse, job loss, injury and illness. Each family/person is assigned a care worker who provides emotional as well as practical support. Grants for childcare and education are also provided to those in need, helping them to reach a better future.

PEPS (Program for Early Parent Support)
Many a Red Tri reader has found their “friendship family” through PEPS, an organization dedicated to bringing together new parents to discuss the trials (and joys!) of the crazy newborn who’s just joined your family. Want to become part of the wider PEPS family? Donations of money or time are always gratefully received, particularly in the area of newborn group leaders, board members and special events volunteers.

826 Seattle
A member of the 826 “family” of non-profits, 826 Seattle is a nonprofit writing center founded to give support to students aged 6 to 18 to develop writing skills through writing workshops, homework help and English language classes. 826 has plenty of ways to get involved with the community and help educate the young people of Seattle.

With four centers throughout Seattle, Childhaven’s mission is to serve children ages one month to five years old who have suffered abuse and neglect. Volunteer positions are available for a variety of opportunities, from clean-up and administrative duties to helping to make a child’s birthday a day to remember. Donations and organization of fundraising drives are also welcomed.

The Children’s Alliance
The Children’s Alliance is Washington’s statewide child advocacy organization, focusing on such areas as foster care, childcare and early learning, health, hunger, juvenile justice, school nutrition, child abuse and state tax revenue. They welcome volunteers and donations.

Together we can make this holiday season better and brighter for those not expecting it. Happy Holidays from the Red Tricycle family! In the season of giving it feels good to share it with others.

Picture: Via Hopelink