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Volunteering in Chicago

Learn How to Give Back to Your Community


If one of your New Year's resolutions is to be more giving, why not consider volunteering in Chicago in 2012?

You can spend the day with a friend or your significant other and volunteer together to serve meals to the homeless; walk a dog; or help build a home through Habitat for Humanity.

Here’s a list of volunteer ideas in Chicago, good anytime of the year. This list will be updated regularly as we learn about more volunteer opportunities. Have a volunteer gig you would like to promote, even if it s something that is a one-day only event? E-mail the gig's or event's information to Chicago@aboutguide.com.

See More About: Chicago Annual Events 2012 l Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Volunteer Experience

1. LaSalle Street Senior Center

Help Chicago’s older adults by preparing and serving them meals, including breakfast and lunch, and playing games with them like Bingo. For more information on volunteer opportunities, call the center at 312-573-8800.

2. PAWS Chicago

Chicago's largest no-kill shelter for dogs and cats. Volunteer opportunities include walking dogs and taking care of the cats. You can also be a Humane Education Presenter to schools and large adult groups and can volunteer at community outreach events. For more information on volunteering at PAWS Chicago, call 773-935-PAWS.

3. Greater Chicago Food Depository

Help distribute food every weekday morning when volunteer teams of two head out into the community in Food Depository vehicles to either deliver fresh produce to member agencies or pick up food. You can also volunteer by helping to repackage bulk products to individual/family size; assemble boxes with assorted foods; check expiration dates, and label products. To learn more about the Greater Chicago Food Depository, call 773-247-FOOD. (Tip: For more volunteer opportunities in Chicago, visit Community Resource Network's Web site.)

4. The Anti-Cruelty Society

The Anti-Cruelty Society (157 W. Grand Ave.; map it; 312-644-8338) – besides helping to care for the dogs (including cleaning and walking them) and cats, you can also volunteer by assisting in the adoption process and interviewing perspective customers wishing to adopt a dog or cat and educating them about good pet care, or you can help sew fleece beds for cats in the adoption room. For volunteer opportunities at the Anti-Cruelty Society, call 312-644-8338.

5. Chicago Cares

Chicago Cares is a nonprofit organization that organizes community service projects throughout Chicago. Each month, Chicago Cares develops "200 hands-on group volunteer projects, including hunger, health and wellness, senior services, and environment and rehabilitation." Chicago Cares also organizes and leads two large service events every year: the Celebration of Service in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. each January and the Chicago Cares Serve-a-thon in June. To learn more about Chicago Cares, call 312-780-0800.

6. Habitate for Humanity

Help build or renovate houses for Chicagoland families. Tasks can include painting; cleaning up garbage and construction debris; flooring; hammering; and more. Find out about upcoming Habitat for Humanity volunteer projects in Chicago by calling 312-563-0296.

7. One Good Deed Chicago

One Good Deed Chicago is a city initiative that harnesses the power of Chicago’s volunteers. There are many diverse non-profits doing good work in Chicago. The focus with One Good Deed Chicago is to support those organizations to engage more volunteers and to use them more effectively to achieve impact for at-risk youth and enhance economic recovery for Chicagoans. One Good Deed Chicago wanted to make sure that its efforts to promote volunteerism would be more than a simple call to action; rather the efforts are aimed at ensuring that, once mobilized, volunteers have someplace to go– a place that would welcome them with open arms and create a meaningful experience for both the volunteer and the charitable cause. It is the future home of Chicago’s very own volunteer opportunity search. Whether you are looking to volunteer, gain non-profit resources, or have any questions regarding volunteering in the City of Chicago, visit the One Good Deed Chicago website.

8. Children's Hospital of Chicago

Volunteer opportunities at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago include interacting with patients and siblings in busy outpatient waiting areas. Activities include art projects, games and reading books; working one-on-one at bedside with infants and toddlers (0-3 years) providing positive interaction and helping with feeding and play; and assisting the Child Life Specialist in facilitating a playgroup and/or interacting one-on-one at bedside with inpatient children (ages 4 - 11 years) and providing emotional support to patients and families.

9. West Suburban Humane Society

As with any nonprofit organization, the West Suburban Humane Society (WSHS) depends on the generosity of volunteers and donors to help care for animals. Whether you can spare a few hours per week or work on a few projects throughout the year, the animals at WSHS can use your help. The WSHS needs help with the care, feeding and transportation of animals; temporary care of dogs, puppies, cats or kittens, including animals that are too young, too old, too sick, or too shy to be adopted; clerical work; humane education; fundraising and public events. Volunteers work a regular 2-3 hour shift per week or every other week

10. North Illinois Food Bank

Northern Illinois Food Bank is able to feed more than 60,000 hungry neighbors across 13 counties because of the support of its volunteers. Last year, 14,000 volunteers donated more than 90,000 hours of their time to help distribute 40 million pounds of food, the equivalent of 33.3 million meals. Whether you are looking for a one-time volunteer opportunity for a group or an ongoing opportunity for yourself, your talents can be put to use at the Northern Illinois Food Bank. Featured volunteer opportunities include: From April 2013 - August 2013, Hunger Study volunteers (teams of 3-4 volunteers per site) will conduct client interviews at the food bank's pantries, soup kitchens and shelters at various times throughout the day and all throughout its 13 counties and also assisting with various tasks to support child nutrition programs. This could include anything from packing snacks to office related tasks.
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