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Best Places In Chicago To Give Back This Holiday Season

This holiday season, consider spending some time volunteering for a local organization in the Chicago area. From packaging donations in a food pantry to cleaning up a forest preserve, there are numerous ways you can make a difference. Many of the volunteer opportunities also allow groups to sign up together, making it a fun way for you and your friends, family or coworkers to work together. The following five organizations can help you get started with volunteer opportunities; for additional organizations that can use your help, check out this list from last year.

The Honeycomb Project
(Credit: The Honeycomb Project's Facebook)

The Honeycomb Project
Chicago, IL 60647
(312) 854-9770

For parents with young children, it can feel as though it's impossible to find a volunteer opportunity that every family member can partake in. That's where The Honeycomb Project comes in. The organization plans volunteer events throughout the year that encourage children, including toddlers, and adults alike to help others. The volunteer opportunities are held throughout Chicago as well. Upcoming events include creating crafts that will decorate a local shelter this holiday season on December 14, 2013, and packing food donations for a local food pantry on December 21. Some of the events require preregistration to participate. For more information, check out The Honeycomb Project's website.

The Forest Preserve Of Cook County
536 N. Harlem Ave.
River Forest, IL 60305
(800) 870-3666

If spending time in the great outdoors is up your alley, then you'll want to spend the day volunteering for The Forest Preserve of Cook County. Not only will you get to meet new people, but you'll feel satisfaction in helping to clean up the forest preserves. What's available? There are several restoration projects scheduled in several forest preserves throughout December and January, so you can get a jumpstart on your New Year's resolution to spend more time volunteering. To find a volunteer opportunity, as well as additional information like tips on what to wear while volunteering, check out the forest preserve's calendar. You will need to sign up prior to arriving at the volunteer job, and registration is available through the forest preserve's website.


Greater Chicago Food Depository
4100 W. Ann Lurie Place
Chicago, IL 60632
(773) 247-3663

Lend a hand this holiday season and consider volunteering at the Greater Chicago Food Depository. The organization needs volunteers to repack food donations into individual and family portions, as well as check donations for expired food. Some administrative tasks are also available for volunteers to complete. The organization is also a great way to volunteer by yourself, or with your friends, family members or coworkers. However, you must register through the Greater Chicago Food Depository's website before arriving, and volunteers must be at least 14 years old. Volunteers are also asked to bring one non-perishable food item to their repacking session.

Related: Best Holiday Volunteer Opportunities For The Family In Chicago

Oak Park Public Library
834 Lake St.
Oak Park, IL 60301
(708) 383-8200

Got a love for books? Then consider volunteering at the Oak Park Public Library this holiday season. The library offers several volunteer opportunities with flexible schedules, making it easy to give back to the community during this hectic time of the year. For instance, you can adopt a shelf to ensure all materials in a particular section of the library are organized and easily accessible for patrons. You can also help by delivering materials to patrons at their homes. Some of the volunteer opportunities are also geared toward teens, including helping younger children at library events. The library also offers volunteer opportunities for groups, so grab your friends or your family and volunteer for the day. For more information, as well as an application to register for a volunteer opportunity, check out Oak Park Public Library's website.

Northerly Island 
Chicago Park District
1521 S. Linn White Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 742-4775

If you're looking for a volunteer opportunity that's off the beaten path, then consider volunteering at Chicago Park District's Northerly Island. Volunteers will be tasked with helping to manage the snowshoe and ski rentals, and will be needed on an on-call basis if there is at least three inches of snow on the ground. This volunteer opportunity is a great chance for people who love outdoor snow sports, and runs on the weekends starting December 14, 2013, and ending on February 16, 2014. If you're interested, fill out a volunteer application on the Chicago Park District's website.

Related: Best Dog Walking Trails In Chicago

Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in "-er." She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at

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