Holiday Cheer

Wake County Holiday Cheer

Holiday Cheer brightens the holidays of children and seniors in need by matching them with community sponsors who provide Thanksgiving and Christmas meals or gifts. This program provides an opportunity for a personal relationship between the sponsor and their Holiday Cheer family.

The annual project begins in late October when social workers will nominate eligible families and lasts until mid-December when gifts are distributed.

Program Overview

Request help through Holiday Cheer

Individual families are not permitted to sign themselves up for Holiday Cheer. All participants must be nominated to the project by their social worker or case manager during the last week in October.

Families who are eligible to be nominated by their social worker must:

  • Have children 0-18 (if still in high school); or
  • Have a senior 65+ living in the home full time; and
  • Actively receive a service or benefit from Wake County Health & Human Services; and 
  • Have a household income at or near poverty level

Families who are chosen to participate will be contacted by their social worker by November 1. Families who are not chosen will not be contacted.

Families who are not chosen to participate in Holiday Cheer can seek assistance through the NC 211 Community Database.

Additional Resources for families

Pride for Parents

Pride for Parents is an annual toy and gift sale designed to benefit hard working families during the holidays. Through donations of new and gently used toys and gifts we offer quality merchandise to families at a deeply discounted price. 

Salvation Army Angel Tree

The Salvation Army Angel Tree program helps provide Christmas presents to families who are in financial need with children up to 12 years old. 

I was nominated to Holiday Cheer, but my information has changed.

If you were notified by your social worker that your family was chosen to participate, but now your contact information has changed, please let us know right away. Contact Aryn Banks at 919-231-5549 or

Participating families who cannot be located in a timely manner will be replaced with a family from our waiting list. We must do this for the benefit of families and sponsors to ensure that gift distribution happens on schedule.

I want to sponsor a family for the holidays

Individuals, families, faith groups, service organizations and business can all participate in sponsoring one or more families in need.

Once your sponsorship application is received, you will be matched with a family who most closely resembles your giving preferences.

There is no deadline to become a sponsor. However, an early application increases the chances that we can match your preferences more closely.

Sponsors will be responsible for contacting their Holiday Cheer family and making arrangements for a mutually convenient time to deliver the gifts you've purchased and wrapped.

While there is no minimum required to participate, we strongly encourage potential sponsors to consider their budget. Families can range in size from one adult to families with 10 children, and sponsors report spending an average of about $75 per person.

Children and seniors who were nominated to the project are the main priority, but you may also purchase gifts for other family members if your budget allows.

This year, we have urgent needs for sponsors who:

  • speak Spanish,
  • will sponsor families in rural Wake County, or
  • will sponsor clients in our Adult Protective Services and Adult Guardianship programs (adults 18+ with cognitive disabilities and no family support). 

Holiday Cheer Sponsor Application 

I want to volunteer with Holiday Cheer

As you can image, we won’t be able to pull these events off without volunteers to assist us. We will need volunteers to pick-up boxes and bring them to our Swinburne location for distribution and assistance for Thanksgiving distribution and Holiday distribution day events. We also are in need of donations such as hot chocolate and marshmallows! Those needs are listed in the volunteer link below.

Please sign-up for days you are available to help. We ask that you please don’t sign-up for a day you plan to meet your family. Also, in order to keep all parties safe we will need to have background checks done. Once you submit your volunteer request we will send you a link for the background check. *Volunteers must be 16+.

Holiday Cheer Events Volunteer Sign-up   Thanksgiving Assistance

I want to make a financial donation

We gratefully accept tax-deductible financial contributions that will be turned into practical items for needy families, such as gift cards for gas, groceries and household items.

We also accept gift cards for stores like Food Lion, Wal-Mart, Target and gas stations.

Amazon Gift List

Financial contributions can be made online or mailed in.

Online Donations

Checks and other mailable gifts can be sent to:

Holiday Cheer Project
c/o Wake County Health & Human Services
P.O. Box 46833
Raleigh, NC 27620-6833

Project Timeline – Important Project Dates

Holiday Cheer 2023 Distribution Day Events

This year we will host 4 distribution day events. We have done our best to include various times and locations to make it easier for both you and your sponsored families to meet.

Please choose a day that works best for you when signing up. We will match you with a family who has also chosen that event. During these days, we will have different activities to make the day as fun as possible for both parties. As always, you will receive your family information and gift list. There is a suggested $75/person limit. You also have the option of doing a retail delivery (amazon, Walmart, etc.) if you wish to remain anonymous or if you are worried about Covid spreading at these events.

**Special cases**: We know some sponsors like to host their own event at their offices, churches, or shopping events. These are still fine. Please choose 'other' on the sign-up form and reach out to us directly to confirm the location. We understand this is vastly different from the way our program has run for the last 25 years. Please understand this is our ongoing commitment to safety for both you and our families.

Distribution Dates

  • December 3rd: 1pm – 3pm, at The Lenovo Campus, Morrisville
    This event is sponsored by Lenovo’s Young Gifted Brother group
  • December 5th: 5pm, at 4011 Carya Dr. Raleigh
  • December 12th: 5pm, at Hilltop Needmore Community Center, Fuquay Varina
    This event is sponsored by Fuquay Varina Police Department.
  • December 16th: 1pm – 3pm, at Eastern Regional Center, Zebulon

Contact Us

Aryn Banks, Seasonal Outreach Projects Coordinator
Call: 919-231-5549
Fax: 919-231-5716

Wake County Health & Human Services
P.O. Box 46833
Raleigh, NC 27620