The “Season of Giving” has arrived and I am looking forward to giving back to my community this December. Chicago has a large number of charities to choose from. Volunteering your time or donating money to a charity that is near and dear to your heart is a feeling like no other. Don’t limit your volunteerism to just the holiday season, but now’s a great time to begin your philanthropic efforts! These are my favorite local organizations.

The Greater Chicago Food Depository
If you’re looking to take the whole family along to volunteer, look into the Greater Chicago Food Depository. They have a Kids Day once a month where you can teach your children, ages 5-13, the importance of giving back to the community. Individual volunteers can help Tuesdays through Saturdays. Currently, they’re looking for volunteers for food packaging. Last year they were able to distribute more than 70 million pounds of food to the hungry!

Child Link
Each year, Child Link holds a holiday toy drive to benefit the 300+ children in their foster care programs. The toys they are collecting must be unwrapped and suitable for children from infant to adolescent. You can host a toy drive with your group of friends, at the office, or any other social gathering this holiday season.

The Boulevard, formerly known as Interfaith House
The Boulevard takes in over 300 men and women each year who are discharged from the hospital with nowhere to call home. Here they’re able to restore their health and get back on their feet. This year, the organization is seeking donations to buy a new truck to help move 150+ formerly homeless men and women into permanent homes. Donations are tax-deductible and can be accepted on their Go Fund Me page.

Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly
The holiday volunteering opportunity with Little Brothers this year is flexible and fun. By committing roughly one hour of your time, you can deliver a gift to an elder that they have been longing for. Visit their site to find the address for the gift pick up. If you don’t have the transportation available to deliver a gift, their site has many other options for how you can brighten an elder’s day.

The Night Ministry
For those struggling with homelessness and poverty in our communities, the Night Ministry provides housing, healthcare, and human connection. Support their work though your tax-deductible donations. They also provide short-term and long-term volunteering opportunities.