Whether your kids are in preschool or college, there are countless ways to teach them the importance of giving back right here on the North Shore.
These local volunteer opportunities, broken down by age and activity, are a great place to start. Round up the family, pick an organization that’s important to you, and get out and give!
This nonprofit organization is committed to feeding children who are hungry in body and spirit. Anyone over the age of 5 can hand-pack meals that are specifically formulated for malnourished children and shipped to nearly 70 countries. Time at this Christian-affiliated organization will fly by as you pack nutritious meals to the tunes of the latest Top 100 hits.
Have the kids bring a few friends to make it a fun afternoon outing. Big groups will be separated into teams represented by different countries, and whoever packages the most food wins—the country that you represent actually will receive the food that you package! Plan ahead, and make sure to make a reservation before you arrive.
Who can volunteer? Ages 5+
Where to go: 742 East Park Ave. (Hwy 176), Libertyville, (847) 984-3846
Orphans Of The Storm takes in all orphaned, abandoned, abused or neglected dogs and cats that are brought to the shelter. They’re devoted to providing the animals with the best medical and physical care possible, while they search for warm, loving, adoptive homes.
A great way to help support this animal shelter (or any local animal shelter near your home) is to donate newspaper, blankets, towels, dog bones, cat trees, toys, beds, treats, cat litter, brushes or any other supplies. Or, plan a fundraiser to benefit Orphans Of The Storm at your school this fall!
Who can volunteer? To volunteer at the shelter and directly work with the animals, you must be at least 18; but you can take your little animal-lovers on a shopping spree at PetSmart to pick out a few things for the animals in need.
Where to go: 2200 Riverwoods Rd., Riverwoods, (847) 945-0235
Lake Forest Open Lands focuses on conserving our natural environment through land acquisition, habitat restoration, environmental education and conservation advocacy. With 12 miles of walking trails that are open to the public year round, LF Open Lands relies on donations and volunteers to support their land management and environmental education programs and upkeep the 800 acres of land.
Volunteers of all ages can help maintain the preserves on specified work days from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wear long pants and sturdy shoes, and LF Open Lands will supply work gloves and any tools needed during the day. This is a great way to get the kids outside and learning about nature, while giving back and improving the environment.
Who can volunteer? Everyone!
Where to go: 350 North Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, (847) 234-3880
PADS is a nonprofit organization that provides emergency shelter, permanent supportive housing, and comprehensive resources to families and individuals experiencing homelessness in Lake County.
Volunteers are welcome to come in and help bag or serve meals to the residents. Each bagged meal has specific requirements: 2 sandwiches, a large drink, a crunchy snack, a wrapped dessert and a napkin.
Looking to donate? PADS is in urgent need of disposable bowls and plates, pup tents, paper towels, toilet paper, laundry soap and bleach. You can also donate old board games, dolls, clothes and more.
Who can volunteer? Everyone!
Where to go: 3001 Green Bay Rd., Building #5, North Chicago, (847)-689-4357
Looking to do something with medicine? Try volunteering at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where there’s a long list of possible activities waiting to be done, from greeting visitors to bedside bingo, Northwestern Memorial is a great place to learn a lot.
This is a longer-term project, as volunteers must agree to a 6-month commitment of at least 3-4 hours per week. Perfect for high-school seniors looking to give back, local college students, or adults, volunteers assist hospital staff with serving patients, their families and visitors.
Volunteers are even recognized at an annual awards dinner and program as a thank you for all of their hard work and dedication.
Who can volunteer? Adults over the age of 18
Where to go: 710 N. Fairbanks, Olson Pavilion, 7th Floor, Room 101, Chicago, (312)-926-2070