As families face hardships brought on by COVID-19, including high unemployment and home evictions, the holidays will likely be a struggle for many across the country.
University of North Texas Educational Psychology Professor Lauren Kelly offers insight about the economic impact of COVID-19 for families during the holiday season as well as a variety of resources to keep the holiday spirit alive without adding to financial strain. Kelly has previously worked with children experiencing abuse and neglect and currently teaches classes about families in crisis and public policy.
“There are methods available to ensure families have some semblance of a holiday this season and are able to retain joy and togetherness in the face of a pandemic and economic struggle,” she said.
According to Kelly, while opposing definitions of poverty have yielded different statistics, it has been consistently reported that between 6 and 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since May 2020 as a result of the pandemic. These numbers elucidate the concerning barriers families are facing in providing basic needs for their families. With so many other concerns already at the forefront of peoples’ minds, holiday shopping for children and family members may lead to overwhelming stress, anxiety and shame.
Kelly offers some suggestions for how families can celebrate the holidays without spending resources that may not be available.
Shop more economically – Take advantage of $1-$3 toys that can be found at Target, Dollar Tree and Walmart. For example, coloring books, art activities, soccer balls, Play-Doh, cars, trucks and dolls can bring joy and happiness to children without posing an additional financial burden to parents.
Focus on experiences – Take a walk or a short drive and see the lights around the community. Make hot chocolate and cuddle together to watch a holiday movie. Volunteer together. Look for free, family friendly opportunities in the community. Simple activities, some free, offer great memories without added cost.
Don’t be ashamed to ask for help – Communities, churches, nonprofits, police departments and other agencies in Dallas-Fort Worth are working to provide holiday gifts for families in need by gathering donated toys and other items. Some of these agencies include: