It’s that time of year once again!  Feasts are being planned.  Gift lists are being made.  Festive moods and generous spirits are abundant.  Right around this time, Chicago Cares starts receiving calls from people who want to volunteer in a way that will make someone’s holiday a little brighter.  We also want to spread the cheer and have several opportunities for those wishing to give back all season-long.  Please note that our Thanksgiving programs filled up quickly, as do all of our holiday celebrations, so be sure to sign up early!

Most of our children’s programs that take place at various schools and agencies around the city will be celebrating the season with special activities and field trips, especially on December 4.  You can also pack food baskets at Breakthrough Urban Ministries in East Garfield Park on December 22 to ensure that local families can enjoy a warm Christmas dinner together.  On December 24, you can help prepare and serve a hearty holiday meal for the women at Deborah’s Place on the Near North Side.

Chicago Cares is also going caroling on December 11 and 18!  Break out your fuzzy hats and warm up your vocal chords – although no choral experience is required!  Join other volunteers and some Chicago Cares staff to bring joy to seniors at several nursing homes and independent-living facilities around the city!  Song books and refreshments will be available, as well as transportation between the sites.  Remember to sign up early to secure a spot!

We are grateful for the abundance of eager individuals who want to volunteer this time of year, and we often hear from our partners that they also see an increase in volunteers around the holidays.  This season certainly brings out the best in people and some are disappointed if there isn’t space left at special holiday projects.  On behalf of all those we serve, we would like to encourage everyone to remember that the needs being met on holidays can also be met every other day of the year, too!  If your favorite project is already full, why not try a new one the following week or maybe even the following month?   After the holiday festivities have quieted down and people have returned to their regular schedules, you may just cross paths with the same seniors or same children on a day when they really need some extra attention – and that interaction may mean the world to them.