Innovation is one of the guiding values of Chicago Cares, which means that no matter how many projects we already have on the calendar, we’re always looking for new ways to engage volunteers in making a difference in Chicago. Whether it’s opening our calendar to expanded volunteer hours or figuring out ways for people to serve through their unique abilities and interests, we are committed to making volunteer service a natural part of the life of every Chicagoan.

One of the ways we’re accomplishing that goal is by creating new project models in our ongoing programs. Here are just a few of the freshly designed projects that we’re unveiling this summer and fall. Whether you’re new to our site or a seasoned Chicago Cares volunteer, we think these projects will help inspire you to make Chicago a stronger community!

Recipe Wranglers
If you’re a Pinterest Pro, this project is for you! Volunteers will meet at the Chicago Cares office and be given the names of different ingredients commonly distributed at local food pantries. Once the star ingredients are distributed, volunteers will use the time to find simple, healthy recipes that feature their listed ingredients. These recipes will then be distributed to guests as they receive their groceries at various pantry programs. When you sign up for Recipe Wranglers, you’re supporting healthy eating habits for individuals and families throughout the city who are facing the struggles of food insecurity on a daily basis. It’s also a great way to meet new people who share you’re interests in providing hunger relief in Chicago.

Tasty Bytes
If Recipe Wranglers piques your interest but you’re worried about how to fit it into your schedule, check out Tasty Bytes! This virtual volunteer opportunity will allow you to participate wherever you are, whenever you are available! Just like Recipe Wranglers, volunteers will be given different ingredients and asked to find simple and healthy recipes for. After completing the recipes on their own, volunteers will send in the recipe slips to the volunteer leader. These recipes will then be distributed to clients as they receive their groceries at our various pantry programs. This program is completed on your own time and not at the date and time mentioned on the Chicago Cares calendar.

Get Up & Go
Too tired to volunteer after work? Then get your day off to a great start by volunteering AND exercising before you even walk into the office! At Get Up & Go, volunteers will run with residents from the Lakeview YMCA and Back on My Feet. Back on My Feet encourages residents of the Lakeview Y to run 3 times per week and offers financial literacy classes to the residents who attend multiple runs. This opportunity is open to runners of all skill levels (and walkers too), so whether this is your first run or you’re an experienced marathon runner, join us to promote physical and financial fitness with our neighbors who are rebuilding their lives, one step at a time!

Math Adventures / Reading Adventures
Each week is a new, fun-filled adventure with students from May Community Academy! Through creative activities, games and crafts, you’ll help build a strong foundation of literacy and math skills for kids in 1st – 4th grade. Volunteers are supporting the work of teachers and staff at May, providing positive role models, supporting social development and engaging students in a variety of learning styles.

You can find these and more than 200 other group volunteer projects each month on our project calendar!