Give Time, Things, Support: 6 Ways to Make a Difference Around Chicago and the North Shore This July

There is no shortage of ways to make a difference around Chicago and the North Shore this month, and in the wake of the tragic Highland Park mass shooting, it’s never been more important to come together and lift up our communities. Here are a few specific ways to support organizations doing important work around Chicago and the North Shore this July, including volunteering your time, donating funds or helping spread the word.

For more deserving local nonprofits in need of your support, visit the Make It Better Foundation and learn more about our Philanthropy Award winners.

Help the Victims of the Highland Park July 4 Mass Shooting

Give: Support

The victims of the 4th of July parade mass shooting and the Highland Park community as a whole need our help. With at least 7 people dead and 36 injured, there will be many who will undoubtedly need support through donations, mental health services, medical support and more.

We have published an extensive list of ways to help, but here are just a few:

Support for victims and their families:

  • Highland Park Community Foundation has formed a July 4th Shooting Response Fund. All donations will go directly to victims, survivors and local organizations that support them.
  • The Lake County Community Foundation Highland Park Crisis Relief Efforts: donations support individual victims and families directly impacted by the shooting. 
  • All-Victims Fund: funeral costs, medical bills, and mental health support for all victims and families (in collaboration with Victims First)
  • Donations from this GoFundMe will “go towards funeral costs, medical bills, and mental health support. Highland Park City Council, Mayor Rotering and the Human Relations Committee will be involved in distributing funds.”
  • Donations from this GoFundMe will support funeral expenses for Nicolas Toledo
  • Donations from this GoFundMe will support the various members of the Kolpack and Joyce families and their medical expenses.
  • Donations from this GoFundMe will help “cover all medical expenses and post care needed” for Alan Castillo.
  • Donations from this GoFundMe will support Aiden McCarthy, the child of victims Kevin and Irina McCarthy, and his family.
  • Donations from this GoFundMe will support the family of Jacki Sundheim, including funeral expenses
  • Donations from this GoFundMe will support the Guzman family
  • Donations from this GoFundMe will support medical expenses for the Roberts family
  • Donations from this GoFundMe will support Lilli Carrasco’s medical and therapy expenses
  • Donations from this GoFundMe will support the Red Oak 6th grader and his mother’s medical expenses

Support for First Responders:

The American Red Cross of Illinois is on the scene supporting first responders and working with emergency agencies to assess the needs of those most impacted in the community. Red Cross disaster mental health workers are also out in the community to help with coping skills, both short and long-term.

Donate to their cause on the American Red Cross of Illinois’ website.

Counseling for the Highland Park community:

  • The Fenix Clinic, a donation-based crisis counseling service for the community is in need of donations, as well as mental health professionals and Spanish translators who would be willing to donate their time this week. Contact Ariana at 847-909-2004.
  • Highwood Library has received a grant to provide counseling services. Donations received will go towards these services.
  • Family Service of Glencoe is offering drop-in hours for counseling sessions to support individuals.

Additional GoFundMe drives, MealTrain links, and more can be found in this Highland Park Community Resource list that is updated regularly.

Curt’s Cafe

Give: Time

Courtesy of Curt’s Cafe

Curt’s Cafe enrolls at-risk youth in the Evanston community, providing job training and classroom education to help teens gain confidence and the skillsets they need to find employment. After their training, Curt’s Cafe assists with job placement and helps them transition into full-time employment.

The Cafe is fully operational and open to the community. There are at least 30 new students per cafe through the program each year. While they accept donations as through their website, they also welcome volunteers. Email to let them know what your interests are in terms of volunteering.

Learn more about at-risk youth and the wealth disparity by watching Executive Director of Curt’s Cafe Susan Trieschmann’s Ted Talk, “Two Worlds of Wealth.”

Chicago New Moms Group

Give: Support

Courtesy of New Moms Chicago

New Moms provides critical services and coaching around housingjob training, and family support for families in Chicagoland. Through their programs, young moms define goals and cultivate their inherent abilities while building a strong foundation that will lead to long-term family well-being.

To help, you can either give a financial contribution or in-kind/goods donations. Currently they are seeking new and unopened:

Pickles Group

Give: Time

Courtesy of Pickles Group

Pickles Group’s mission is to provide free peer-to-peer support and resources to kids affected by their parent or caregiver’s cancer. Having a parent with cancer can be a lonely, isolating experience. Pickles Group creates thriving communities of kids supporting kids through and beyond their parent’s cancer.

With more than 3 million children and teens in the U.S. who are affected, there is an overwhelming need for the support we provide. Give your time by becoming a volunteer facilitator or make a donation online.

Girl Forward

Give: Time & Support

Courtesy of GirlForward. By Bailey Toksoz Photography.

Based in Chicago, Girl Forward pairs teen girls displaced from their home countries with local female mentors. Refugees receive tutoring, job-hunting assistance, and an all-important sense of sisterhood in their new city. Specific offerings include English vocabulary and conversation classes; SAT prep; distribution events where girls “shop” for school supplies, clothes, and personal hygiene products; and exploring the mentee’s home neighborhood together. During the pandemic, the organization provided Chromebooks for the girls to use at home.

GirlForward expects increased need this year, helping to resettle evacuated Ukrainian individuals as well as families from around the globe. Give your time by hosting a fundraiser or give your support by making a financial contribution.

Bottom Line Chicago

Give: Time & Support

Courtesy of Bottom Line

Bottom Line partners with degree-aspiring students of color from under-resourced communities to get in and through college and successfully launch a career. They are committed to building strong connections with students, providing them with individual support, and ensuring they have the guidance they need to persist and earn a college degree.

Donate on their website to help make the dream of college a reality for Bottom Line’s students. You can also get involved by volunteering at Bottom line, hosting an event, or hiring a Bottom Line student.

More From Better:

Lucy Shapiro headshot

Lucy Shapiro is Better’s editorial intern for the summer of 2022, currently a rising senior at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign studying Journalism with a minor in Political Science.

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