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How Struggling Families Might Afford The Holidays

Latesia Isabel
This image from a Dallas ice storm in 2013 reminds some of costly heating bills and childcare snags ahead.

For many families, financial concerns around the holidays have more to do with surviving cold weather than funding any upcoming celebrations. Today on "Think," guest host Courtney Collins talked to Yesika Moncada of Catholic Charities of Fort Worth and Cathy Packard from Family Gateway about some resources available for North Texans who need help.

Listen to today's conversation on "Think."

Moncada and Packard named the toughest challenges their clients see this time of year:

Daycares and schools close on ice days and there's nowhere for kids to go. 

It's also cold and flu season. If parents don't have a failsafe caregiver lined up, there's nothing to do except stay home - and often miss pay.

"We continually coach our families on how to talk to their boss,"  Packard says. "A lot of bad things that could happen won't happen if you're just confident enough to call ahead."

Affordable housing is impossible to find.

When families crowd into small spaces, the psychological impact can extend beyond stress and inconvenience.

"The space in itself kind of can blur the boundaries in families," Moncada says. 

"Unfortunately this is a very very tough time for families without means to be living in Dallas. There's almost literally no available supportive housing in the community right now," Packard says. 

She advises those who need immediate help to call Family Gateway and ask to speak to intake for referrals or recommendations. 

Gifts are just a dream - the basics are sorely needed. 

Moncada suggests families apply for aid fromGoodFellow, which has a special Christmas program that helps applicants sort out wants and needs. They're full up this year, but families can get a jumpstart next September when the organization begins taking applications for 2016. 

Packard adds that Rainbow Days does a Saturday with Santa event on December 12th; it's a party for homeless kids from shelters and supportive housing in Dallas. Find out how to get involved.

Listen to "Think" Monday through Thursday at noon and 9 p.m. on KERA 90.1. Find the podcast here.

Lyndsay Knecht is assistant producer for Think.