There are countless ways to safely volunteer in Illinois during the pandemic. As promised, here’s part two of our Volunteering Opportunities series! Did you miss the first volunteering blog? No worries, click here to catch up!
“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”
– Elizabeth Andrew
Check out this list of safe volunteering opportunities in Illinois as the pandemic continues…
Do you feel convinced to help others, especially after everything we endured in 2020?
Once you have made the generous decision to help others, you are already on a great path to volunteering! Your actions are motivated from your heart. Have a heart to heart with your loved ones to get started:
- Talents: Sit down and write out a list of what you have to offer as a family and/or individual.
- Time: Really take a look at the areas of your life you and how much time you can offer specifically for volunteering. It can look like 1 hour a week or 2 hours a month. Whatever time you can give to helping others is precious.
- Donations: Consider other ways to give. Maybe time isn’t your number one resource for helping others. You’re physically and emotionally already stretched too thin and can’t donate any more of your time right now. Don’t fret, there are a variety of ways to give back! You can donate clothing, money, non perishable foods, coats, shoes, and even books!
The desire to help others is a great place to start. Next comes figuring out what programs need the most help in your area and how to get involved!
Do some research on local organizations, health systems, elderly communities and food banks in your area. Local school boards and IL.gov are also in need of help. Fortunately Checkexpress has already curated a long list of possibilities, saving you some time from researching!
Here are a few options of the types of local organizations that could use your help…
The people of Illinois are in great need of shoes, clothes, and coats. What an active and brittle winter we’ve recently had. So many people are not personally equipped with proper clothing to combat the brutal chicago temperatures and wind. Resale shops and clothing donation centers are aiding those in need of affordable or free winter clothing.
Find out how you can give to others…
- Cradles to Crayons: Approximately 197,524 children in Chicago live in low-income or homeless situations – that’s one in three children. Without adequate and appropriate clothing, children face unfair barriers and participate in life on an unequal playing field. Across most of the United States, only three (food, housing, energy) of four basic needs are supported by government safety net programs. Cradles to Crayons uses the term “Clothing Insecurity” to formally recognize the issue, and increase awareness on this hidden basic need. Find a drop off station near you!
- Salvation Army: Your gift today will meet the greatest need in your community – providing essential help where it’s needed most. Join us in fighting to cure hunger, overcome poverty, provide housing, equip families, empower youth, partner with adults, combat addiction, fight for justice, and help disaster survivors. When you donate clothes, shoes and coats to the Salvation Army they spread donations to all those in need. Volunteers are valuable assets in The Salvation Army’s efforts to meet the changing needs of our world. Through the skills and experience, they bring to The Army, volunteers make significant contributions to society by positively impacting the lives of those they assist. The Salvation Army volunteers change lives, uplift families, and support communities throughout our nation every day. Complete the application here.
- Goodwill: When you donate your new and gently used items, local Goodwill organizations sell them in stores or on shopgoodwill.com and use the revenue generated to provide valuable employment training and job placement services for people in your community. Find a donation center near you!
The elderly community needs our love and attention! For almost a year now, most senior citizens have been isolated from their families and community. As a way to protect the vulnerable population we love, the majority of America gave them physical space. The pandemic left the elderly community feeling more lonely than ever! Until the vaccine is widely distributed most seniors still have to practice extreme social distancing.
Here are some fantastic ways we can give back to seniors without putting them in physical danger:
- Writing letters: Hand written letters to the elderly is a great way to help keep their spirits high. Get the little ones involved by allowing them to create colorful handwritten letters and cards! Have lots of fun creating special notes of joy for the elders in your community. In need of stamps to send your letters of hope? Pick up some monthly themed US postage stamps at your local Checkexpress!
- Love For Our Elders: This is a non profit organization that sends letters out to senior citizen communities. They appreciate people supporting elders during this critical effort to fight loneliness. Note from Love For Our Elders: “We’d love it if you’d write a handwritten letter today to support what we do. Please note that we do not accept emailed or typed letters .We’re in need of letters, and we’re in need of donations. We have a team who reads, sorts, bundles, and mails the letters – and mailing gets expensive! In addition to your letters, consider supporting us with a donation.”
- Send a digital card: Perhaps you want to send a happy note quickly and upload pictures. HappyGram knows many kids/adults text instead of call or write, he thought it may be easier to encourage people to send a message — similar to a text message — to their loved ones in retirement homes. This family owned business started by their personal love for a grandparent is now helping others connect in a digital way!
Urgent need for blood in Chicago! Ever since the pandemic struck, there has been an extreme shortage of donated blood in our state and across the nation! When was the last time you gave blood? Wondering how can you help?
Take a look at the options below for assisting with blood donations:
- Red Cross: Give blood safely with Red Cross! They are requesting help. Hospitals are in great need of blood donations. Get connected with a blood donation site near you. You can even make an appointment online to fit your schedule!
- Vitalant: Give Plasma donations for COVID-19 affected patients! Vitalant is calling all COVID-19 survivors to help those still affected by the virus. Are you fully recovered from COVID-19, or suspect you may have had COVID-19 but weren’t tested – and have been symptom free at least 28 days?If so, your blood or platelet donation could help COVID patients. Vitalant is testing all donations for COVID-19 antibodies. If your donation is antibody positive, we can produce convalescent plasma from it to help COVID patients – and the remaining blood components will help other patients with serious medical conditions.
The four legged members of Illinois need our help too! Humans weren’t the only ones affected by the major challenges of 2020. Even more recently, animals need protection from severe weather and national disasters. Local organizations are rallying volunteers to help out the precious animals of our state and beyond.
Spread the volunteer love to our furry Chicago residents with these amazing programs…
- PAWS Chicago: Join PAWS Chicago in its work to help homeless pets. There are endless ways for you to give back: fostering, adopting, donating and volunteering. Find one that’s right for you and get involved today. Here is a list of PAWS locations that have safe in person volunteers options. Another great option for helping this meowtastic organization is by joining their “Shop and Give” program. If you’re already a pet owner and out shopping, pick up a few extra items for the animals in the shelter. PAWS has a helpful list of supplies needed and where you can find them.
- Catcade: Local non-profit, arcade-themed chicago cat rescue, lounge, and a version of a cat café. Catcade lounge simulates a home environment allowing the cats to feel safe and comfortable. Catcade cats are not kept in cages, instead they get to live in this safe space playing, cuddling, and socializing with other cats and humans. Catcade cats are all adoptable with the exception of their resident cat “Leo”. They are currently closed (temporarily) due to COVID-19. The owners will determine when it’s safe for staff and cats to reopen. Catcade is still doing adoptions and accepting donations. View the sweet cats available for adoption on their Cats page. Catcade also has two wishlists for their animals for cleaning supplies, food, litter and much more: Chewy and Amazon.
- One Tail At A Time: OTAT mission is to end pet homelessness by making pet ownership a joyful and accessible experience for all. OTAT accomplishes this by rescuing animals from overcrowded shelters, placing them in loving forever homes and providing support and resources to pet owners in need. OTAT spreads animal rescue awareness regularly on local and national news outlets. Never miss pawsome news by staying connected to their press updates. Recently, they announced they have resumed virtual volunteer orientations which they host 1-2 times per month. Register here!
- Want to help on a larger scale? Connect with The Humane Society of the United States: This national humane society responds on a larger scale to animals in need. They help to transport animals safely to animal shelters in different states like Illinois with “non-kill” policies. Their volunteers work with the Animal Rescue Team to help save animals who are the victims of illegal animal cruelty and natural disasters. Whether an out of control hoarder or dog fighting operation, or hurricane or puppy mill, animal rescue volunteers travel from all corners of the country to assist in the ongoing care of dogs, cats and other animals who have been rescued from harm. Help spread awareness by sharing their stories on your social media!
As a local family business, Checkexpress feels deeply connected to our community and knows just how important it is to look out for each other. Kindness is more important now than ever! While most of us are busy, we believe in the spirit of volunteerism – any way you are able to give back makes a difference.
We hope that between the two blogs in this series that you are able to find a meaningful way to give back during the pandemic. Do you have suggestions? Please share them with us!
Our company has a long standing tradition of giving back to the people, communities and neighborhoods we serve. Through donations and contributions we offer support to a broad range of organizations and programs including the American Red Cross, Illinois Fire Safety Education, YMCA, and many other worthwhile causes. Our state association, The Community Currency Exchange Association of Illinois, sponsors a fantastic program in which school supplies are given to families in need. Additionally, our national association, Financial Service Centers of America, offers college scholarships to deserving students throughout the country.