Giving Back: Chicago Version
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
As we all know, Chicago is a big city with big problems. Fortunately, its people also have big hearts. If you feel so inclined, please consider giving your time to one of the very worthy organizations below.

Be An Elf
Technically, this is nationwide, but because it's available in Chicago I'm putting it up today. How great would it be to answer a child's letter to Santa, then actually provide the items needed and give them to that family for Christmas? You could be someone's Christmas miracle, LITERALLY. Awesome.
Greater Chicago Food Depository
This is a first-class organization that feeds hundreds of thousands of needy people each year. I think my first good deed for 2009 will be to volunteer at one of their soup kitchens...I used to do it in high school with my church group and it shocked me how grateful a person can be for a hot, balanced meal. Sometimes, that is really all it takes. The food depository also maintains a comprehensive list of sister agencies here. I defy you to find one that isn't close to home.

The CARA Program
The CARA Program works to assist homeless and at-risk populations with critical support services, job placement, and comprehensive life skills training. They function primarily on financial donations, but you can also contact them to donate gently used professional clothing and automobiles, or give of your time and particular skills. I think about this charity every time I see a homeless person bundled up against the Chicago winter - how would their life be different with a little help? Maybe you are the person who can help change their situation. You never know...

I'm not judging a standard gift- believe me, there's a pair of equestrian boots at Nordstrom that currently sit atop my Christmas wish list...but the need remains whether or not I have italian leather around my calves. Please consider giving some of your time to a worthy organization in your area, or even donating online in lieu of a standard holiday gift.