The holidays are officially upon us. Congratulations on surviving the excitement of Thanksgiving and the madness of Black Friday. But, we’ve still got weeks to go! For some, the stress of parties, gift-giving, and decorating will begin to overshadow the true meaning of the season. If you’re looking to take a step back and make a difference this year, then you’ll appreciate these suggestions of charitable giving opportunities you can do during the holidays in the South Loop. We’ve put together a list of ideas with help from a number of local sources including Gazette Chicago, the award-winning free monthly newspaper that serves 10 Chicago neighborhoods. Every December, since 1984, the Gazette publishes its Spirit of Giving, a listing of organizations working to help those in need throughout the Chicago area. Check out their December issue for the complete listing. Our blog focuses on charitable giving opportunities during the Holidays in the South Loop, Near South, and Loop communities.
Charitable Giving Navigator for this Holiday Season – South Loop, The Loop, and Near South
Coat & Winter Clothing Drives:
Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance – 10th Annual PDNA Holiday Winter Coat Drive, Sat., Dec. 7, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Give the gift of warmth! Drop off coats, gloves, scarves, hats, and boots for adults, boys, and girls at the Chicago Women’s Park Field House Lobby, 1801 S. Indiana Ave. (*Uniforms are a plus – navy blue button down or khaki pants.) For more information, email email@example.com
Second Presbyterian Church hosts a winter coat drive through February 2020. Donate warm clothes, sweaters, caps, hoodies, scarves, and sweatshirts. Drop off donations at 1936 S. Michigan Ave., Tues. through Sat., from 9:30 a.m. until 1 p.m.
The church’s Lunch Bag Program is also collecting used winter coats, sweaters, sweatshirts, hoodies gloves, scarves, mittens, caps, and socks. Donated items can be placed in the receptacle in Fellowship Hall. For more information, please call the church office (312) 225-4951.
True Rock Ministries (57 E. 16th St.) provides a variety of immediate needs in conjunction with various agencies and organizations within the South Loop and throughout the city of Chicago. Known for extensive community outreach projects such as their Acts of Kindness Initiative, the organization’s charitable giving opportunities include donating furniture to families, sponsoring Holiday Coat and Christmas Toy Giveaways and participating in the LaRabida Christmas Clothing Drive. If you are interested in donating or would like to volunteer please call 312-939-1109.
Chicago Cares – Warm Up Chicago
Help sort and pack donations for Chicago Cares’ Warm Up Chicago Drive. The Warm-Up Chicago Drive has over 20 community partners that include shelters, schools, and social service agencies. Those who receive donations will include veterans, the homeless, and immigrants. For more information, call or email 312-780-0800, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meals & Food Drives:
Every Saturday morning from 8:30 to 11 a.m., volunteers with The Homeless Ministry of the First United Methodist Church (Chicago Temple) serve meals to men and women at Grace Place Episcopal Church, (637 S. Dearborn St.) in Printer’s Row. Approximately 15-20 volunteers are needed each Saturday to help with registering guests, preparing and serving meals, set-up, clothing distribution, and clean up. They also need volunteers to help during the week with cooking, donation pick-ups at local establishments, clothing organization, and driving on Saturdays. Call (312) 912-1246 for more information. To volunteer, sign up at http://gracechicago.org/contact-us/
Second Presbyterian Church, 1936 S. Michigan Ave., The Lunch Bag program provides lunch to approximately 150-200 neighbors a week. Volunteers serve salads and sandwiches donated by local establishments and supplemented by purchased food from the Greater Chicagoland Food Depository. For more information, call (312) 225-4951.
Lakeside Bank lobbies will serve as drop-off sites for non-perishable foods as part of its annual food drive in conjunction with the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Drop off donations during normal business hours at 2200 S. Archer Ave., 1350 S. Michigan Ave., and 1055 W. Roosevelt Rd. Call (312) 435-5100 or go to www.lakesidebank.com for more information.
The food pantry at St. James Catholic Church, (2907 S. Wabash Ave.) accepts non-perishable food items and toiletries. The church seeks help preparing distribution bags, stocking shelves, and many other tasks for operating its food pantry. Call (312) 842-1919 for more information.
Holiday Gift/Toy Drives:
First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple is participating in ChildServ’s annual Holiday Gift Drive and will collect gifts for families in need on Sundays, December 1st, 8th, and the 15th at 8:30 a.m. Gift ideas include: books for all ages, stuffed animals, footballs, basketballs, soccer balls, coloring books, puzzles, Legos, building blocks, hats and gloves.
U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program collects new, unwrapped toys and distributes them as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community. Drop off locations near the South Loop include: National Louis University (122 S Michigan Avenue), Mon. – Fri., 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. till Dec. 6, and DePaul University (1 E. Jackson Blvd.), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. till Dec. 10.
BLACKHAWKS Toy Drive
Vienna Beef is proud to sponsor the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation Annual Toy Drive at home games on Dec. 15th and 18th. Fans are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys or monetary donations to be entered into a nightly drawing to win Blackhawks prizes. The toys will be given to patients and their families at hospitals and local organizations throughout the Chicagoland area. Collection bins will also be located at all Blackhawks Store locations and Fifth Third Arena through Wednesday, Dec. 18.
Operation Santa makes it possible for individuals and organizations to adopt letters to Santa and send responses and thoughtful gifts. Each year, hundreds of thousands of letters sent to Santa arrive at Post Offices around the country. Letters ask for toys, games, and basic necessities.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago seeks donations of new, unwrapped toys in their original packaging for distribution to children at the organization’s Toy Shower. Drop off toys for this special event until Fri., Dec. 12, at 721 N. LaSalle St. or at any of the organization’s suburban sites. Catholic Charities also seeks monetary donations for Sponsor-a-Family and volunteers to sort and package donated gifts. Contact Catholic Charities at (312) 655-7401, COG@catholiccharities.net, or www.catholiccharities.net/celebration.
The Salvation Army Angel Tree Program is an opportunity to spread joy and cheer to the less fortunate during the holidays through Dec. 22. Families and children have their specific needs and wants met for a warm and joyous holiday experience. To participate in the program, simply view and select Angel Tree tags online, shop from home, and even ship Christmas toys directly to The Salvation Army center closest to you! Or you can purchase a new toy, boots, gloves, outerwear—anything you would like to give to a needy child—and drop it off (unwrapped) at your nearest Salvation Army location. You can also print Angel Tree Tags to exhibit or distribute at your place of business. For more information, call 773-205-3516 or email email@example.com.
Explore Charitable Giving Opportunities in Your Neighborhoods During the Holidays and Make a Difference in your Communities
2019 has been an amazing year. I am humbled and grateful to all of you for entrusting the selling and purchasing of your family’s home. It is a great privilege. I hope you and your loved ones find joy in all the magic of this season. Make sure to take time for yourself and time to explore this charitable giving and volunteer events. May you enjoy everything the holidays have to offer including the opportunity to make a difference in, especially if you live in our South Loop community.
This blog was first published on my website Terri Buseman's blog on December 3, 2019.