Quick and Easy: Ideas for Family Volunteer Day

Family Volunteer Day is a day that celebrates the power of families who volunteer together.

Strategically held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving to kick off the holiday season with giving and service, Family Volunteer Day demonstrates the power of families coming together to support their communities.

Volunteering together not only benefits the community, but it also strengthens families. With parents as role models, children are inspired to live service-driven lives and to think of others first, developing a foundation for kids to grow into strong, contributing adults. But family volunteering can—and should—extend beyond just one day each November. We’ve created a list of fun ways for families to come together and give back throughout the holiday season.

What: Gingerbread Building for Charity

Where: A. Perry Homes, 564 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka

When: Sunday, Dec. 1, 1–3 p.m.

How: A. Perry Homes is hosting its first Gingerbread Building for Charity contest for children 13 and under. The first-prize winner will receive $500, with an additional $500 donated to the charity of the winner’s choice. The second-prize winner will receive $250, with an additional $250 donated to the charity of choice. The $15 registration fee includes all supplies and the gingerbread house.

Make It Better is the proud media sponsor of this event.


What: International Family Festival

Where: McGaw YMCA, 1000 Grove St., Evanston

When: Saturday, Dec. 14, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

How: The McGaw YMCA is hosting its annual International Family Festival, designed to help educate youth and families about the various holiday traditions from countries around the world. Donations in the form of canned goods or non-perishable food items are requested to support John’s Cupboard, a food pantry benefitting the McGaw YMCA’s men’s residence program. The event is also seeking volunteers age 15 and older in many areas, including arts and crafts, coat check, greeters, parking monitors and concessions. For more information, call the McGaw YMCA at 847-475-7400.


What: Canning For Kids Holiday Shopping Event

Where: Mariani Landscape Holiday Shoppe, 300 Rockland Rd., Lake Bluff

When: Tuesday, Dec. 3, 5–7 p.m.

How: Mariani Landscape is launching its Holiday Shoppe by selling produce canned from the gardens at Lake Forest’s Old Mill Farm to benefit the Ferrer Foundation. Canned goods are available in half-pint, pint and quart glass jars and include a variety of pear, plum and apple butters and jams. There is a suggested $10 donation at the door, and all the proceeds from sales and entrance donations will benefit the Ferrer Foundation. Ferrer Foundation implements educational wellness for children in underserved communities in Chicago, particularly children whose parents are incarcerated.


What: One Step 5K and Kids’ Fun Run

Where: Grand Geneva Resort, 7036 Grand Geneva Way, Lake Geneva, WI

When: Friday, Nov. 29, noon

How: Looking to get away? Take a break from the holiday food frenzy (and work off the turkey pounds) at this 5K, created by Glenview dad Michael Gershowitz to benefit the One Step At a Time Camp for children with cancer. One hundred percent of proceeds benefit the camp, a program of Children’s Oncology Services, Inc. The Grand Geneva Resort and Spa is offering a discounted room rate of $99 to participants for the night of the race, so extend the fun day to a great mini-getaway with the family. Register for the 5K and Kids’ Fun Run here.


What: Thanksgiving Greet and Feed

Where: Jonquil Hotel, 1600 W. Jonquil Terrace, Chicago

When: Thursday, Nov. 28, 10 a.m. to noon

How: Start your holiday off by sharing your bounty with others. On Thanksgiving morning, drop by Rogers Park’s Jonquil Hotel to feed and greet low-income families. Bring a new laundry basket filled with groceries (not Thanksgiving food), including canned goods, microwaveable rice and pasta, pasta sauces, cereal or coffee. No reservations are required, and it’s a great giving event for the whole family.


And don’t forget to mark your calendars for our Giving Tuesday event. From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, stop by our offices, 588 Lincoln Ave., in Winnetka, to donate a new or handmade winter clothing item. We’ll celebrate you—and the spirit of giving—by providing generously donated doughnuts and coffee.