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salvation army

Volunteering in the ‘Burbs

KB's Journey, Living & Giving

Six months ago, I swapped my Chicago (proper) address for a suburban one (*sobs*) and have been adjusting to life ever since. There are many practical reasons why I chose to move to the suburbs, but the most important one was my husband’s declaration that he would never live in the city of Chicago. I begged and tried to sell him on the virtues of my hometown, but it was a no go. I get it.


So, now I’m out here and am trying to substitute many of my favorite Chicago (proper) activities with acceptable suburban versions. I know where I can get jerk chicken (25 minutes away) and found a great nail spa in town. One of the things that I was really concerned about was finding volunteer opportunities out here. While there’s a tendency to think that the suburbs are perfect, the truth is that many people out here need assistance as well. So, how could I help in my new neighborhood?

Well, the first sign that I received was the sight of a food drop-off bucket for the Self Help Closet & Food Pantry of Des Plaines in a grocery store across the street from our house. This is probably my favorite way to give back because I can just buy extra staples or canned goods on sale and place them in the container. I found out that the Food Pantry has regular volunteer opportunities so I hope to help out there one day.

Another opportunity that I’m really excited about is the Breakfast for Baby activity hosted by my local Salvation Army chapter. On the second Saturday of the month, families with little ones under a year old can come out for breakfast and the opportunity to “shop” for diapers and other baby supplies.

Between the above opportunities and the listings on the Hands On Suburban Chicago website, it makes me feel better to know where and how I can give back to my community. This isn’t to say that I won’t ever volunteer in Chicago (proper) again. I love my city too much to do that. Besides with my annual service challenge on the horizon, I need all of the service learning projects that I can find! More info on that to come. Until then…




Image: Daily Herald

20 Ways to Spread Holiday Cheer ($5 or Less)

Living & Giving

During the holidays, it seems like there is an abundance of good cheer almost everywhere you look. With the exception of a few crazies who get into fights at shopping malls and refinance their homes for Christmas presents, I believe that most of us really look to this season as a demonstration of goodwill. This holiday season, I’m committing myself to do 30 acts of kindness so I sat down and brainstormed a list of holiday-themed charitable acts that cost $5 or less. And, looking back on the items below, most of them actually don’t cost anything but time! I may not be able to personally do all 20, but I promise to complete at least 12 of the items listed below!

Ready for the list? Here we go…

  1. Head to Macy’s and write a letter to Santa. For every letter received, Macy’s will donate $1 to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, up to $1 million dollars. Bonus: Purchase 10 stamps and grab ten cards for family/co-workers to mail in.
  2. Buy a cup of hot cocoa or coffee for someone who you know or don’t know.
  3. Purchase a few cans of non-perishables the next time that you’re grocery shopping and donate to a local food drive.
  4. Buy a couple of pairs of magic stretch gloves and donate to a warm accessories drive.
  5. Dress up as Santa and visit a shelter or nursing home.
  6. Break out the construction paper and create homemade cards for family and friends.
  7. Bake cookies or cupcakes for a special someone.
  8. Volunteer at a local pantry or soup kitchen.
  9. Can you carry a tune? Join local carolers as they bring Christmas cheer to others.
  10. Participate in Hanes Virtual Sock Drive. Log on to and help them donate 250,000 socks to the Salvation Army.
  11. On a weekly basis, gather all of your loose change and drop it in the red Salvation Army kettles.
  12. Offer to watch your friend’s children for a couple of hours so they can run some holiday errands.
  13. Did your office Secret Santa give you another body wash or lotion? Donate it to a local women’s shelter.
  14. Download beautiful holiday stationery and write a heartfelt note to five people in your life who would least expect it.
  15. Sign up with your local senior center to do wellness check and to deliver warm meals to those most vulnerable during this cold weather season.
  16. Donate $5 to Feeding America. All donations are being matched until December 31st. So, it’s really like you’re giving $10!
  17. The next time that you spot someone doing good, tweet about it and tag the tweet with #goodspotting. The Case Foundation is giving you do-gooders a chance to win up to $500 for you and $5,000 for your favorite charity! You can also upload a photo to the Foundation’s Facebook page.
  18. Host a potluck at your house and ask everyone to bring $5 to pool together and collectively donate to the organization of your choice.
  19. Buy some candy canes, tie little note tags around them, and give to neighbors, co-workers, students, etc.
  20. Offer to put up your grandparents’ holiday decorations. I’m sure that they deserve the break.

What simple acts would you add to this list? Have any of you done any of these things already? As I complete the tasks, I will share photos on my Facebook page. Feel free to do the same!


P.S. How do you guys like my favorite ugly holiday sweater?

Ugly Holiday Sweater = Win

3 Tips When Donating Items To Charity

Living & Giving

You know the routine. You look up one day and decide that you have too much stuff in your home and something must go. Maybe you try and give the items away to family and friends or you may decide just to donate it to your local Goodwill. For the record, charity stores do not have to accept any and everything that you give them. Save everyone some time and do these three things before donating to charity.

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