As the weather turns cold, Chicago Cares is warming up with thoughts of the holidays. Our partner organizations and the clients they serve are also excited for a variety of reasons, including charitable giving often goes up around the holidays, as many people generously want to offer their time and resources.

There always seems to be a food drive, fundraiser, or some way to serve our neighbors. Since Chicago Cares is in the business of building opportunities to give and serve year-round, we’ve come up with a few ideas to consider when you think about giving back this season:

  • Make “Giving Back” the theme of your party! Instead of asking guests to bring food and beverages to a gathering you may host, request that they bring a certain type of food that you can donate to a local food pantry. Many pantries receive donations at this time of year, but being intentional about what you’re donating will have greater impact. Our partners at Lakeview Pantry  have reported that they are always low on juice and every kind of soup except tomato. The Greater Chicago Food Depository is a great resource for Lakeview Pantry (and many other pantries in Chicago), but typically only sends tomato soup, leaving them with a disproportionate amount to distribute. Consider a Chicken Noodle Soup party, a BYOJuice party, or look up food pantries in your area that you can donate to. Call ahead and ask what their specific needs are at this time of year.
  • Save the Date to Serve. If you’re interested in volunteering with a group of friends or family members, consider getting together at the holidays to think about a time where you can serve outside of the holiday season. Even after the hustle and bustle of the holidays has passed, our calendar programs continue to happen every month (and are a great way to cure the post-holiday blues!) Think about taking some time in February or March to serve a meal, sort and distribute food, or play BINGO with seniors who may not be able to go out and socialize due to the cold temperatures. The holidays come and go, but the needs remain, year-round.

Of course, if you’d like to continue working with Chicago Cares this holiday season, please check our calendar for more opportunities. We have a few caroling buses and party projects that would love to have you!

 Today’s post is from Program Coordinator, Amy DeLorenzo.