Philanthropies We Love, From the Make It Better Staff

Each November, communities celebrate National Philanthropy Day to recognize the contributions that philanthropy has made to our world.

We, like our readers, have a great passion for building better communities. At the heart of our staff is a collective desire to do good, and we donate our time and our support to the causes and philanthropies we hold dear. In honor of National Philanthropy Day this Friday, Nov. 15, we asked our staff which nonprofits are most important to them; and together we’ve compiled a list of quick and easy ways you can give to those organizations, too.

And we want to hear from you! Leave information on your favorite nonprofits in the comments below.

Susan B. Noyes, Founder & CEO

“I love Warming Hearts and Hands because 100 percent of the proceeds supplies new winter outerwear for the homeless, and the program grew out of my (then) teenage son’s suggestion. I also love every nonprofit doing effective, efficient and collaborative work to educate children or make families stronger.”

How you can help: Make It Better Foundation is accepting donations of new gloves, scarves, hats and coats through Dec. 13 at our offices, 588 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, and at the Volunteer Center, 520 Glendale Ave., Winnetka.

Mindy Fauntleroy, Co-Founder

“I love the Wilmette Theatre. Most people don’t know that this 99-year-old theatre now operates as a nonprofit. This historic downtown Wilmette anchor brings actors’ training, live performances, art film and documentaries to our otherwise ‘wired’ life. Makes for a fun night out while supporting this local treasure.

“I also love the idea behind Glenview’s Village Treasure House, a nonprofit consignment shop with a twist. They take in upscale furniture (on consignment). They then take a portion of the proceeds and provide grants to agencies that serve women and families in crisis. The twist is that the person donating the furniture gets a cut of the sale as well. This works when someone has an expensive piece that they don’t need anymore but can’t bear to just donate. Everyone wins in this scenario.”

Julie Chernoff, Editor in Chief

Heifer International (pictured above) was the first charity that my kids singled out as the one they wanted to give back to. When they were in middle school, we gave them $100 for Hanukkah and let them choose the charities in which they were most interested. This charity, which helps families in third world countries purchase livestock that can be used to support their families (water-buffalo milk, anyone?), was a winner with my kids.” 

Lindsay Roseman, Digital Editor

Youth Services of Glenview/Northbrook is close to my heart because of all the incredible work that they do right here with children in our local schools. Their endless support and strong presence in the Glenview community has shown families that no problem is too small, and that the community will band together to help all children succeed.”

How you can help: Register to run in the Tall Trees Turkey Trot 5K to benefit YSGN, Thursday, Nov. 28, 8:15 a.m. at Tall Trees Park in Glenview.


Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) does what no other organization does to ensure that kids are protected and their voices are heard during tough times. As a member of Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity, a longtime CASA partner and supporter, I’ve loved being able to help them help kids who need it most.”

Anna Carlson, Assistant Editor

Project Linus, headquartered in Bloomington, Ill., is a great organization that provides blankets for children who are ill or in need. This seemingly simple gift can make such a huge impact on a child’s life.”

How you can help: Project Linus Chicago is hosting a holiday Linus Shopping Faire Saturday, Nov. 16 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the Gloria Dei Church, 1133 Pfingsten Road, Northbrook. Vendors include: The Pampered Chef, Discovery Toys, Artistry Make-Up and many more. 


Coco Keevan, Foundation Editor

“Two of my favorite nonprofits are 826 National and Gilda’s Club, two national philanthropies with active Chicago chapters. 826 National, a nonprofit dedicated to helping students with expository and creative writing, was founded by author and editor Dave Eggers. Its unique approach makes for an almost comical learning experience: Its centers are all disguised as peculiar storefronts (Chicago’s is The Boring Store, which carries surveillance gear, while Boston’s is the Bigfoot Research Institute), and their approach to teaching—through field trips, publishing projects and writer’s workshops—gets students excited about writing.

“Gilda’s Club, a cancer support system, was founded after the death of ‘Saturday Night Live‘ comedienne Gilda Radner. Radner said that ‘having cancer gave me membership in an elite club I’d rather not belong to,’ and, after her death, her husband, Gene Wilder, and friends established Gilda’s Club. My mom introduced me to Radner’s characters—Roseanne Roseannadanna and Emily Litella—and her legacy of laughter in pain has always resonated and inspired me.”

Sarah Philippart, Art Director

“As a proud ‘mom’ of a rescue pup and a former volunteer at an animal shelter, I fully support PAWS’s ‘no kill’ mission and promotion of responsible pet ownership. All our furry friends deserve a safe home!”

How you can help: Donate canned and dry pet food, leashes, harnesses, bones and other requested items. You can also download Quingo, a fun trivia app, on your iPad and play for PAWS.


Lesley Smith, Designer

“My dad and grampa were both fire chiefs, and growing up we always supported and helped raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. They also volunteered at the summer camp that worked with the Jerry’s Kids campers, and my sisters and I helped out.”

Julie Carter, Ad Sales

“My favorite nonprofit is The Catholic Charities. It supports all those under-served people—single, financially challenged moms, homeless, veterans—anyone who needs assistance. For example, it’s the single largest Christmas gift giver in the Chicagoland area, providing nearly 17,000 gifts to those in need. It’s a wonderful NFP to be involved with if you’d really like to make a difference in the lives of people right here in our very own community.”

Martha Sheridan, Ad Sales

“My favorite nonprofit organization is Canada’s Free the Children, notably the ‘Me to We’ trips. My husband and two of my children have been to Africa twice to help build schools for young (high school age) Masai ladies.They have also helped raise money to build wells in Kenya. The Masai women make jewelry, and I will be hosting a jewelry show at my home in December selling their unique and beautiful work. The proceeds will go directly to the Masai people.”

Michelle Weiss, Special Projects

“I am particularly passionate about the work being done at A Safe Place women’s and children’s shelter in Lake County. Domestic violence exists across all demographic and geographic realms, and A Safe Place offers many resources to help in all instances.”

Christina Lundin, Director, Tech Mamma Lounge

“My favorite philanthropy is First Book. I first learned about First Book in college; it was my sorority’s philanthropy. The mission of First Book is to give children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books. As a kid, I loved to read, so this is a cause that I feel passionate about.”