As we head into the holiday season and begin to think about celebrations and giving gifts to our loved ones, it’s a good time to remember those in need. No matter how much or how little you donate of your time or money, giving back can be a rewarding and fun experience for you while making a huge difference in someone’s life!
Depending on how you choose to contribute, a volunteer activity can make your community a better place for all; lead to new friends; connect you to valuable business contacts; help you master new skills; or even allow you to share your expertise. Beyond these tangible benefits, the act of doing good just makes people feel good about themselves, wouldn’t you agree?
There is no shortage of opportunities to give back. Take a look around: you’re likely to find service events at schools, community centers, houses of worship and even where you work. If you’d like to experience a new way of giving back, check our list of suggestions below to find an activity that matches your interests, time and budget…
Cradles to Crayons Chicago is the perfect choice for getting kids involved in giving back. They’ll easily relate to the idea of donating to other children, and have fun selecting things to give. Cradles to Crayons Chicago collects both new and like-new items for ages newborn to age 12, and they offer three ways to contribute: making a purchase through Amazon, donating things from your home, and hosting a collection drive.
Local food pantries offer a way to help people living right in your community. You can drop off bags of accepted items, organize a group food drive to benefit the pantry or volunteer your time to sort donations. If you’re hosting a holiday party, consider suggesting on your invitation that guests bring a pantry item for a group donation. For North Shore suburbs, visit the Northfield Township Food Pantry, 2550 Waukegan in Glenview. Check other township offices for pantries in your area. The Greater Chicago Food Depository website also lists volunteer opportunities at local food pantries and food banks throughout Chicago.
Chicago Cares offers an easy-to-use search tool that filters local volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups by a range of criteria, including cause type, date/time and location.
Volunteer Match is a nationwide online platform that matches people looking for volunteer opportunities with nonprofits looking for volunteers. You can choose by cause and location to find a good match.
Most animal shelters depend on donations and volunteers to provide care for abandoned animals. For example, Orphans of the Storm in Deerfield has a wish list of items individuals and groups can donate. If you want to give time, they need volunteers to socialize and groom cats, help out at adoption events, greet shelter visitors and help with fundraising efforts.