10 Ways to Help Your Community This Holiday Season
If you're considering donating time or money this season, here are 10 local organizations that need your help.
Heaven knows it's hectic (and cold) out there; and this month, in particular, our individual budgets and schedules are already under enormous strain. But, possibly like never before, the community needs whatever you can give.
Under grim economic conditions and the strain of the holidays, most of the following 10 organizations are struggling to provide for an ever-increasing number of people when they, themselves, might be laboring just to stay afloat. Consider making a gift of time or money this season. It's genuinely rewarding (we promise), and these worthy organizations really do need your help.
- Mokena-Marley-Frankfort FISH. The FISH resale shop in Mokena is always looking for donations, clothing and small household items; and volunteers to help sort and sell their merchandise. Donations are sold at the shop and all proceeds go to the FISH Organization which provides counseling, assistance, emergency shelter and holiday gifts to area residents in need. Call 708-478-1671 for more information.
- The Mokena Educational Foundation. Back in March, the Mokena Elementary PTA, Athletic Boosters and Music Boosters all got together to try to reinstate extracurricular activities that were cut due to the budget crunch at district 159 schools. PTA president Carol Garcia said that the foundation has raised less than $150,000 toward the $250,000 required to fund the activities, and incoming donations have recently slowed. Most events and fundraisers have ended, and public enthusiasm for the project seems to have dwindled. "The best way to support it right now is just make a straight donation," Garcia said. Checks made out to Mokena Educational Fund can be mailed c/o Mokena Organizational Leaders, P.O. Box 426, Mokena, IL 60448, dropped off at any of the schools or accepted via PayPal at mef159.com. If patrons mention the district or the schools at The Gift and Favor Shop on Wolf Rd. in the Chamber of Commerce building, the business will donate 10% to MEF on purchases made through Dec. 15.
- The Treasure Chest at 2571 E. Lincoln Hwy. in New Lenox is an extention of MorningStar Missions of Joliet, a non-denominational religious organization that has provided everything from meals, utility payment assistance, emergency shelter, to job coaching and spiritual guidance to needy individuals and families in Will County since 1909. According to Jackie Kinney, volunteer coordinator, the New Lenox resale shop needs help sorting donations, shelving merchandise, checking electronics and general store maintenance. The store also needs donations of clothing, furniture, books, linens and household items in good, usable condition. All proceeds go to MorningStar Missions. Call 815-722-5780 for more information.
- Senior Services of Will County provides entertainment, activities, meals, health services and assistance for the elderly in our community. The organization relies heavily on private donations in order to provide their services. Volunteers are also needed for help assembling mailings, delivering meals and service at dining sites. Wilma Hopkins, director of education and programming, said "We can always use as many hands as we can get." Call 815-723-9713 for more information.
- The Frankfort Township Food Pantry is in perpetual need of donations of food and household supplies such as paper towels, cleaning products, pet food, cash and grocery gift cards. In this economy, the food pantry has seen it's clientele spike 540 percent since 2007. Call 815-806-2761 or stop by the Frankfort Township building on Lincoln Highway to find out what they need most.
- Volunteer or make a donation to the Lincoln-Way High School District 210 Foundation. The Foundation funds scholarships and awards classrooms and activities with items that would not otherwise be afforded by the schools' budget. According to it's website, the foundation has purchased and awarded everything from cameras for art classes to laptop computers, scientific calculators, projectors and white boards. Volunteers are needed to sell raffle tickets, plan auctions, assemble gift baskets; and perform clerical and graphic design projects per individual expertise. Call 815-462-2976 for details on how you can help.
- The KidsWork Children's Museum in Frankfort relies on community support to keep running and offering educational and interactive activities for children. Donations also help the museum to provide field trips and play passes for kids in need. Volunteers who love working with kids are always welcome to apply. Call 815-469-1199 for more information.
- Be a volunteer at the New Lenox Public Library. According to their website, the library depends on volunteers to help shelve books, check in/outs and perform a variety of administrative functions. Friends of the Library is an all-volunteer body that organizes the library's book sales. The NLPL also accepts donations of used books and cash. Call 815-485-2605 for more information, or download the volunteer application directly from the website.
- Volunteer with the Forest Preserve District of Will County or adopt a local trail, campsite or grove. There are upcoming workdays taking place in New Lenox and throughout Will County, including December Saturdays at Hickory Creek Preserve and Old Plank Road Trail. Volunteers will cut, haul, or stack non-native plants to make room for native species to flourish. Call Renee Gauchat at 815-722-7364 or e-mail email@example.com for registration information.
- It may indeed be the most rewarding, yet difficult, volunteer opportunity in the area; but consider signing on to help at Heartland Hospice in Frankfort. The hospice employs different levels of volunteer, from knitters who make blankets and shawls for patients, to patient visitors and people to provide caregiver respite. "We are always looking for volunteers," volunteer coordinator Helen Simpkins said. "It's a wonderful way to be able to give back, and they (the volunteers) all look at it as a privilege to be able to spend time wth our patients." Call 815-469-7100 for information on how to apply.