Volunteering with kids is such a worthwhile way to connect as a family. Children can see the impact of their hard work, and make a difference in the lives of others. Parents help foster the importance of giving back and teaching gratitude for their own blessings. These wonderful organizations throughout the western suburbs are working towards bettering the lives of community members. Many of these groups have age requirements for volunteers. There are always ways for your family to raise monetary donations to give back to these incredible organizations.
Volunteering with Kids in the Western Suburbs
DuPage Pads works to end homelessness in DuPage County by supporting clients with overnight shelters, life coaching, job counseling, etc. Check this page to sign your family up to volunteer for a variety of opportunities. Families choose a shift at an interim housing site, to serve or pack a meal, work in educational programming or volunteer for a local event. Volunteers at their interim housing sites must be a minimum of 12 years old. Families with younger children can help by setting up a donation drive for clothing and personal hygiene products. Check their Amazon wish list for their current needs.
Feed My Starving Children offers a hands-on volunteering experience for any sized group. Families hand-pack dried vegetables, rice, soy and a nutritionally complete blend of vitamins/minerals into bags. The meals are then sent to groups around the world. Feed My Starving Children has required adult-to-children ratios for larger groups, and all volunteers must be 5 years or older. Online reservations are needed at any of their permanent sites in Aurora, Schaumburg or Libertyville. There are also MobilePack events in various suburban locations throughout the year. These look for monetary donations, but also may have volunteer spots open to the public.
Playitforward started in Wheaton in 2014 and has since grown to Naperville, Arlington Heights, Chicago, and beyond since then. They have regular events to spread kindness and help our children learn to be kind and grow up to be kind adults. It’s a wonderful mission that they can carry throughout their lifetime! Check their website to see upcoming events that your family can participate in.
Outreach Community Center is a Christian non-profit in central Illinois, but has volunteering events in the western suburbs that kids can be involved in. Check their calendar to see if there is an upcoming event to help with near you.
The Four Corners Community Church in Darien hosts an annual Christmas Market. Local families can find brand-new toys and gifts at significantly-reduced prices. Families help reduce the financial burden of the holidays that others may feel. Pick out a gift in the $20–$30 price range and drop it off at one of their collection sites by December 2, 2018. See the website for details on how to donate gifts, contribute a monetary donation, or register to volunteer your time at the event on December 15, 2018.
Hinsdale Humane Society supports animals and families with lost pets, pet therapy and fostering programs, community outreach and obedience classes. Animal shelters are always looking for donations of food, cleaning supplies, etc. Consider hosting a garage or bake sale and donating all your proceeds to the animals. Follow your local shelter on Facebook, as some post their “wishlist” of up-to-date needs. If you’re interested in volunteering directly with the animals, most shelters have a minimum age requirement, as well as trainings and an application fee.
Students from 13 local LaGrange area junior highs participate in the LeaderShop’s Junior High Leadership Program. Kids take part in a one-day leadership conference, then bring what they’ve learned back to students at their own school. They’ll meet to discuss and plan service projects. Students brainstorm ideas and then select projects that will benefit their school or community. LeaderShop’s Junior High Leadership Program is reserved for 7th and 8th grade students only, but be on the lookout to participate in the service projects they plan.
Loaves and Fishes provides community members with groceries, as well as educational and employment resources through their CARES programs. Children as young as 6 years old may volunteer at Loaves and Fishes. Families donate their time by packing snacks bags, bundling diapers or restocking the grocery market for patrons. Group of scouts, classmates, or neighbors can spend a meaningful afternoon learning about this local organization and the impact it has on the community.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization. Through their website, you can select from a wide variety of relief efforts to support with monetary donations. With Operation Christmas Child, families send shoeboxes full of small gifts to children around the world, many of which who may be receiving Christmas gifts for the first time. Select a theme, or pick out favorite small toys to include for their donations. The FAQ page has guidelines about items to pack. Families are welcome to pack as many boxes as they would like with a suggested donation of $9 per box. This is intended to cover processing and shipping costs. In order to volunteer at a drop-off location, your child must be 13 years of age. National collection week is November 12–19, 2018 at various drop-off locations in the suburbs.
Operation Warm focuses on keeping children warm during the cold winter months. Instead of collecting used coats in a coat drive, monetary donations are used to provide new winter coats to children. Money can be used to purchase coats sent to a local distribution event, or in neighboring cities. Check out their website for inspiration on how to create your own fundraiser, start a drive, or get the family involved in a garage sale to keep children warm this winter season.
Teens can volunteer at Hope Chest, a LaGrange resale shop. It benefits Pillars Community Health, which provides medical services to residents of the western suburbs. Pillars does not have any volunteering opportunities designed for younger children. However, families are welcome to donate meals through Connie’s Kitchen, a program that provides donated meals to Constance Morris House, their domestic violence shelter. Anyone interested in donating meals is asked to fill out a volunteer application.
Volunteering at Plymouth Place in LaGrange Park builds meaningful relationships for both the volunteers and the seniors living there. Individuals, as well as small groups, are encouraged to plan group activities, work special events, participate in cooking or gardening programming, or simply spend time visiting with residents. Start by learning about volunteer opportunities and completing their online form.
Ronald McDonald House Charities has countless ways for people to volunteer. Whether setting up a weekly commitment, or volunteering periodically, you’ll make a difference in the lives of families who are away from home as their children are treated for medical concerns. Group volunteering include planning family activities, preparing meals or baking cookies. Individual activities include home improvement projects or cleaning common areas. Some of the volunteer opportunities have minimum age requirements for children. The Volunteer Manager will help you find the best fit for your family. Ronald McDonald House Charities are located near the following hospitals: Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Edward Hospital in Naperville, Loyola Medical Center in Hines, Lurie’s Children’s Hospital in Chicago, Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, and UChicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital in Chicago. Click the link above to read more and fill out a volunteer application for the location nearest you.
Don’t forget! You can get your children involved in service through a variety of other ways. Children can make a difference in their local community through school clubs or PTO groups, religious groups, or scout organizations. And lastly, Random Acts of Kindness are wonderfully positive ways to teach the beauty of good deeds and selflessness to children.