As the holiday spirit settles over the area, several annual food, toy and monetary charitable efforts are kicking into high gear to help the less fortunate in our community this holiday season.
We've rounded up several holiday drives that will allow you to give back locally. If you know of others, please share them in the comments.
The Worth Township Youth Commission is sponsoring its annual Christmas Care program for families experiencing financial difficulties. In the past, Worth Township has helped hundreds of families through donations. New toys and “gently used” coats will be accepted by the Youth Commission at its office, 11601 S. Pulaski, Alsip, beginning through December 21.
Families in need can apply for the program by filling out an application at the township offices. You can call 371- 2900, ext. 45, for more information on donating or applying.
For the fourth year, Abby Casciato will be hosting a toy drive for Advocate Hope Children's Hospital. Held at the Rhino Bar, 10330 S. Western Ave., on Dec. 8 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., the drive will collect toys for patients at the hospital. This year's event will be co-hosted by Emily Beazley, a 10-year-old who is battling cancer herself. Drink specials and raffles will be available at the drive. A flyer is attached to this article.
Starting on Nov. 23 through Dec. 21 Marie's Cafe, 3660 West 111th St., will be collecting toys for Advocate Hope Children's Hospital. A tree will be set up and where customers can leave gifts. Everyone who donates will receive a free fountain drink. On Dec. 9 Santa Claus will pay a visit to Marie's from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. for pictures.
The Evergreen Park Youth Commission's annual coat drive runs until Nov. 30. You can drop off new or gently used coats to the Community Center, 3450 W. 97th Street. Call 708-229-3377 for more information.
Pilgrim Faith United Church of Christ in Oak Lawn is providing individuals or families a chance to "adopt a child" by providing Christmas gifts a number of children. Each participating donor will be notified of the age and wants of a particular child. The donor will purchase and wrap gifts for that child and bring them to church. Gifts will be then be distributed through Children's Home + Aid in Chicago. To adopt a child, contact email@example.com or call 708-422-4200 by November 30.
At Pilgrim Faith Church's "Alternative Christmas" market you can purchase a water buffalo for a farmer in Bangladesh, clean water for a village in Sierra Leone or starter beehives or flocks of chicks and all sort of other gifts that will help persons will few resources become self-sufficient. Or maybe you would prefer to give a sewing machine so a woman can start her own business or warm blankets like the one recently distributed in New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy. Your gift will both honor your loved one "who doesn't really need anything" and give a leg up to someone far away who just needs a little help to be able to earn a living. The "Alternative Christmas" market is open about 10:30 am each Sunday during December at Pilgrim Faith United Church of Christ, 9411 S. 51 Avenue in Oak Lawn.
Donate New Stuffed Toys to Comer's
Donations of new stuffed animals are being accepted at the Oak Lawn Senior Center at 5330 W. 95th St. that will be donated to young patients at Comer Children's Hospital. Stuffed toys must be brand new and still have their tags. Drop them off between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. through Dec. 7.
Sharing and Caring
Members Oak Lawn Municipal Employee Credit Union, along with Tinley Park village employees, are collecting non-perishable food items; coats, jackets, boots and other wintergear; children's toys and gift cards to such stores at Jewel, Fairplay, Target and Kmart to be distributed to LOCAL families. Collection boxes have been placed all around Oak Lawn Village Hall and at Shirey Cadillac. Please drop off donated gift cards at the credit union in the basement of Oak Lawn Village Hall during business hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Donated items will be distributed to COURAGE at St. Germaine; Together We Cope and Pilgrim Faith UCC Food Pantry.Donations accepted up until Dec. 21.
The Oak Lawn Park District’s Oak View Community Center, 4625 W. 110th St., is holding a toy and gently used clothing drive now until Thursday, December 20th. Donations will be distributed to Advocate Children's Hospital, Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS), and Toys for Tots. For more information, please contact 708-857-2200.
Students and staff gather food and deliver turkeys, stuffing and canned goods to local families. This effort is named for the Shepard High School teacher who started it in the 1980s. Jerry Lemon, a health teacher, had asked students to bring in food labels to discuss nutrition. Many simply brought in the canned goods with labels attached and Lemon started donating them to local charities. He managed the driver for 20 years before his retirement in 2008.
Those from the community who wish to help can bring canned goods to school through mid-December. Shepard is located at 13049 S. Ridgeland Ave. in Palos Heights.
The organizers behind this community-wide food drive want to have plenty of donations to distribute by Thanksgiving and continue collecting until Christmas. Residents can drop off nonperishable holiday foods at the Palos Park Police Department, 8999 W 123rd.
Suggested non-perishable items include, but are not limited to, rice, cereal, canned vegetables, pasta, soup, pasta sauce, peanut butter and jelly.