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12 Chicago Charities That Need Your Support This Holiday Season (and Beyond)

With #GivingTuesday just around the corner, ‘tis the season to give back to your community. (Psst:#GivingTuesday is an annual initiative that is celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and kicks off the charitable season.) That’s why we’ve rounded up 12 of our favorite Chicago charities, non-profits and otherwise good causes that could benefit from your end-of-year donations. Whether you opt for a monetary gift or choose to volunteer your time, there’s no doubt your gift will help make Chicago a better place. But remember: While a third of Americans’ charitable giving happens in the month of December, your Chicago neighbors need help beyond the holidays—if possible, consider setting up a recurring monthly donation in 2022 so that you can assist those in need throughout the year.

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1. Brave Space Alliance

Brave Space Alliance is the first trans-led and Black-led LGBTQ+ center on Chicago’s South Side. With a special focus on Chicago’s South and West sides, Brave Space Alliance shares essential programming, learning resources, and mutual aid to uplift traditionally oppressed voices in the Chicago community. Brave Space Alliance is currently accepting general donations, in addition to specific COVID-19-related donations to support some of the city’s most at-risk populations during the pandemic. Weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly donation options are available. bravespacealliance.org

2. My Block, My Hood, My City

You may already be familiar with My Block, My Hood, My City from their annual Be a Part of the Light campaign, which last December decked out 12 straight miles and 500 homes along Dr. Martin Luther King Drive with lights, festive garlands and more. And this year, the organization is going even further by decorating from 51st and King to 115th and King. But its reach goes far beyond twinkle lights with year-round opportunities for underprivileged young people to step outside their comfort zones and explore new neighborhoods and world perspectives, all while fostering personal investment in the well-being of their communities. Volunteer to be part of the lights celebration here or donate to MBMHMC here. formyblock.org

3. Chicago Women's Health Center

Since 1975, Chicago Women’s Health Center has offered healthcare to women, trans people, and ultimately to everyone in need, using a sliding scale that helps every patient get the care they need, regardless of their economic status. (The center serves more than 6,000 people every year!) Volunteer or make a one-time or recurring monthly donation here. chicagowomenshealthcenter.org

Assata's Daughters/Facebook

4. Assata's Daughters

Assata’s Daughters offers free educational programming to young Black people as they invest in the Black Liberation movement. With resources for participants to establish their political consciousness in the first place, or to deepen it through lessons in organization, revolutionary services, and beyond, a donation to Assata’s Daughters—be it one-time or an ongoing monthly support—can help cover everything from donating books to the people the organization serves, to covering their public transit costs, to providing food support and more. There are also opportunities to join Assata’s Daughters volunteer circle. assatasdaughters.org

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5. Care For Real

Care for Real’s Pet Pantry helps connect Chicago pet owners in need—especially seniors—with the food and other supplies they may not otherwise be able to afford to take care of their beloved furry friends. Partnerships through Edgewater’s Bark Bark Club and other local businesses make this pet-food distribution possible, but you can donate directly here. careforreal.org

6. Open Books

By buying a book from one of Open Books’ nonprofit retail locations, you support the organization’s literacy programs for new readers of all ages, writing workshops and more. In the mood for a daily writing sprint to keep your creative juices flowing? Open Books can help. Know anyone whose household would benefit from the joy of a story hour? Open Books has you covered there, too. open-books.org

7. Resilience

Resilience Chicago (formerly known as Rape Victim Advocates) supports survivors of sexual violence through crisis intervention, as well as through medical and legal advocacy. Counseling for individuals and families is also available, as well as support groups. Review all your volunteer and donation options for this vital organization here. ourresilience.org

8. Chicago Reader

The Chicago Reader—our city’s beloved alt-weekly since 1971—moved to a nonprofit model last year, in hopes of keeping its independent journalism alive and healthy. If you, too, enjoy music news from Gossip Wolf, unfiltered political commentary from Ben Joravsky, or anything else you’ve ever read online or from its newsprint pages while on your morning commute (remember those?), consider establishing a monthly donation to keep both its digital and physical presses printing. chicagoreader.com

9. Project Onward

Project Onward helps artists with disabilities get the recognition they deserve for their talents. This non-profit provides gallery and studio space for people of all ages—with an emphasis on adults—who have developmental disabilities or who are impacted by mental illness. Set up a single donation, establish a monthly gift, or designate Project Onward as your Amazon Smile organization of choice here. There are also opportunities to volunteer. projectonward.org

10. Alliance For The Great Lakes

We love our shoreline, which is why it’s so important to keep it healthy, safe and beautiful. This organization has been helping protect the Great Lakes through advocacy, education and restoration for more than 50 years. There are plenty of ways to contribute to the Alliance, including participating in an Adopt-a-Beach cleanup to pick up thousands of pounds of debris from beaches and shorelines, while providing researchers with valuable data about sources of pollution. Find a cleanup near you here or make a donation here. greatlakes.org

11. Chicago Coalition For The Homeless

An estimated 58,273 people were experiencing homelessness in Chicago prior to the COVID–19 outbreak, and this number has likely increased since then. The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless’ mission is clear: to organize and advocate in order to prevent and end homelessness, based on the belief that housing is a human right in a just society. Help this non-profit in their important work by making a one-time or recurring donation. CCH has a limited capacity to accept in-kind donations (food, clothing, care packages, etc.) and recommends getting in touch with GiveNKind, an organization that connects goods with nonprofits to benefit the community. chicagohomeless.org

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12. Your Local Mutual Aid Fund

Don’t forget about your local mutual aid fund. Sometimes, there’s no better way to positively affect the well-being of your nearest neighbors than by helping out with any financial resources they may need. Block Club Chicago’s list of mutual aid funds is a great place to start to see who needs assistance near you.