Holiday volunteering

The holiday season is full of opportunities to give back. Bells ringing outside grocery stores for the Salvation Army, canned goods piling up in donations boxes for pantries at various drop-off locations: the spirit of giving is loud and visible in December. At Chicago Cares, we start to receive phone calls around this time of the year from families and individuals who want to make a difference for the holidays. While we offer several projects on and around the holidays, including dinner on Thanksgiving Day and seniors’ bingo on Christmas Eve, these opportunities fill fast. We are thrilled about the volunteer interest and often refer volunteers to opportunities outside of Chicago Cares that are happening in the community, but we’d like to provide some other ways to make giving part of your holiday celebration this year:

  • Take time this holiday season to set a date in the future with your family, friends, or on your own to volunteer with Chicago Cares. Although the spirit of giving is strong around the holidays, the needs of our community are strong all year long. Use the holidays as a time to put a volunteer date on your calendar for January, or make volunteering part of your personal goals or resolution for 2013. Amy made this suggestion in last year’s holiday giving blog, and we think it’s a tradition worth continuing for 2013.
  • If you’re hosting a holiday event this month, ask your guests to bring a canned good or other donation in lieu of a host gift. As Amy mentioned in last year’s blog, Lakeview Pantry and The Greater Chicago Food Depository are great options for food donations. You can also donate personal items to organizations like the Night Ministry, which works to provide housing, health care, and human connection to members of our community struggling with poverty or homelessness. Similarly, you can make a donation of goods to St. Leonard’s Ministries, an organization that provides residential and case management services to men who have recently been released from prison and are looking to make a fresh start toward rebuilding their lives. Both organizations provide wish lists on their websites.
  • Make a donation to an organization or cause you care about. If you’d like to contribute to Chicago Cares, visit our I Care page and make a donation to the issue area of your choice or to our general fund. These funds will support programming throughout all of 2013. You can also support our Read-with-Me programs specifically by purchasing a book to donate from our Amazon wish list.

These are just a few ideas, and we’re sure you can find even more ways to give back for the holidays and all year long. Happy holidays!