Friday, April 2, 2021

#GiveBackGetInvolved: Resources for Donating Effectively

We've now passed the one-year anniversary of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent quarantine reaching us here in the U.S., which have affected all of our lives in profound ways. Certainly, the striking political events of the past year have also shed light on the various injustices and plights that our friends and communities are facing and were facing already. It's also spring cleaning time, and I wanted to share some quick tips on donating effectively to local organizations and name a few Chicago-based orgs that are seeking items now. If there is an event, organization, or volunteer opportunity you would like to see featured in a future post, please contact me at

For Animals: Animal shelters always accept monetary donations, of course. The top items otherwise generally needed are: dog food, cat food, food for other types of animals (depending on the type of shelter), food bowls, cat litter, litter pans, chlorine bleach, and office supplies. Check with any local organization on their specific needs and wants before bringing them a donation. PAWS Chicago offers a comprehensive list of Chicago Area Animal Shelters.

For People: Money, yes, and clothing, always. But while donating clothing and food to shelters and depositories is a common practice, people tend to overlook basic needs and, with good intentions, donate "fancier" items in lieu of badly needed essentials. Some items shelters and community outreach programs need the most are: blankets, socks, shoes, and underwear, as well as diapers, feminine hygiene products, and general hygiene products. Some organizations also need school supplies, earbuds, books, and art supplies. Check with any local organization on their specific needs and wants before bringing them a donation. The Youth Empowerment Performance Project offers an excellent list of resources and services, including for Chicago Youth Mutual Aid, for those who want to help and for those who need help.

I'm grateful to Broadway United Methodist Church for inspiring this post. I joined their community at the end of last year and have been deeply moved by their commitment to accepting all people, and their dedication to activism and social justice. They have a Community Donation Box and a Community Food Pantry, where people can add or take items. Donations of socks are especially needed, and all items should be new.

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