Holiday Helping Hand Request for Proposals 2020

Holiday Helping Hand, a partnership between United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region and the Poughkeepsie Journal, has helped thousands of people in our community. 100% of donations go directly to organizations and individuals in need.

Applications for 2020 Holiday Helping Hand Grants are now closed.
Anticipated Award Notifications: November 4
2020 Holiday Helping Hand Grant Information 


Available Funding: 
United Way and the Poughkeepsie Journal are pleased to announce the Holiday Helping Hand program for the 2019 holiday season. Holiday Helping Hand is a joint project of the Poughkeepsie Journal and United Way designed to provide a small amount of assistance to Dutchess County individuals and families who might otherwise have little or nothing for the holidays. Funds are given to local organizations to purchase gifts, food and/or parties for children or seniors, or utility grants for families in need.

Eligibility Criterion 
All qualified applicants must:

  • Be a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit, tax exempt, charitable organization. An IRS letter of determination of tax-exempt status must be submitted with the application.
  • Complete the Counterterrorism Compliance Guidelines. Click here to download form, fill out and submit in application.
  • Serve Dutchess County residents with grant funding.
  • Have the capacity to conduct the program and to submit a final report to United Way.

For In Person Events

  • Practice social distancing by maintaining 6 feet apart from others
  • Wear a face mask/cloth
  • Gatherings are limited to state regulations

Program Requirements
Funds may be used for the following purposes:

  • Holiday gifts children age 18 and under and seniors 65 and older
  • Assistance with utility costs for families
  • Food baskets
  • Holiday parties for eligible individuals/families

Food baskets and utility assistance may be provided to families that include children or seniors (as defined above). Eligible individuals are defined as Dutchess County residents (or their caregivers) experiencing temporary or ongoing financial difficulties.

Holiday Helping Hand funds cannot be given directly to a recipient. Organization representatives must purchase the holiday gift/food basket/utility vouchers.

To maximize available funding, United Way anticipates awarding funds at the rates below:

  • $25 per person limit to purchase gifts/food/parties for individual children and seniors
  • $50 per family limit has been established to purchase utility vouchers
  • Families receiving a utility voucher are not eligible for gifts/food baskets/parties.

No single agency will receive more than $1,500 in Holiday Helping Hand assistance.

Individual gifts may be combined to purchase a family gift. (For example, an organization may purchase a family gift in an amount up to $100 for a family of four children.) Expenditures exceeding the limits above are not allowed.

Holiday Helping Hand prohibits the purchase of items that could prove detrimental to the health and/or safety of the recipient. Items prohibited for purchase include tobacco and alcohol products, and/or items promoting violence (toys, videos, etc.). Organizations who do not follow these guidelines will have future participation jeopardized and or be required to return funds.  


In order to assure that gift cards are not purchased for vendors who sell tobacco, alcohol or other inappropriate items, gift cards may be purchased for the following stores:

TJ Maxx                                       Best Buy                                  Marshall’s                     

Barnes & Noble                          Macy’s                                      Old Navy

Footlocker                                  The Children’s Place                 Staples

Kohl’s                                          Christmas Tree Shops              Five Below

Do not buy gift cards to any other vendor without written approval from United Way.  Please note some stores have been removed from our approved list due to their sale of alcohol and/or tobacco products. 

Do not buy gift certificates to a mall, or open-ended credit card company gift certificates (such as a Visa Check Card), that can be used for purchases at the discretion of the buyer.

The Holiday Helping Hand program will not reimburse any amount for tax.

The participating organization is responsible for documenting appropriate use of Holiday Helping Hand funds through original receipts and/or payment to utility companies.

Your organization must provide a primary and secondary interview contact who are able to interviewed by the Poughkeepsie Journal reporter about your program. In addition, please share success stories with United Way that may be shared in UWDOR publications and/or with representatives of the Poughkeepsie Journal and the larger community. These stories will be used for Holiday Helping Hand promotion and fund raising.



Be prepared to upload these documents (PDF preferred) when you apply:

A history of Holiday Helping Hand...

In 1982, United Way was collecting money for holiday dinners. By 1983, Bill Pukmel, managing editor at the Poughkeepsie Journal at the time, agreed to team up with United Way in its fundraising effort and to expand the campaign altogether. In that first year, the campaign raised more than $13,000. This past year we raised $31,000 to purchase gifts, food, toys, clothing, utility assistance and more for over 3,115 people in our community.

The holidays can be a hard time of year for all of us. Please consider a small donation to give someone a hand this holiday season.

Donate to Holiday Helping Hand!

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