Looking to Volunteer: Best Places to Lend a Hand in Chicago

Looking to Volunteer: Best Places to Lend a Hand in Chicago


Have you been thinking about volunteering in Chicago but don’t know where to start? When we step outside our normal boundaries, there are so many in need in this great city, as well as thriving organizations just looking for an extra hand.


A few months ago, I had a rare Saturday afternoon with no plans, and was interested in volunteering. After a web search turned up no options where I could lend an afternoon without an extensive list of requirements, I nearly gave up. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Chicago Volunteer Expo, and came out with a great list of places to give our time and talents. Held at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, the expo featured hundreds of organizations looking for your help.


Here are The Chicago Lifestyle’s top picks for simple, easy was to volunteer in Chicago:


1. Chicago Cares Serve-a-thon on Saturday, June 7


Chicago Cares is a volunteer organization targeting the city’s most critical needs. Their 21st annual Serve-a-thon draws over 5000 volunteers for a fun day of improving the city’s classrooms, parks, playgrounds, libraries and more in Chicago’s underserved communities. Focusing on creating change for the city’s children, this critical day of service contributes to the year’s funding for additional opportunities throughout the year. Celebrate your efforts with an after-party featuring food, drinks and live music. Signup is open now for this special annual event.


On a regular basis, it’s easy to volunteer for one-time events, just sign up on their website and view the volunteer calendar. One-time events include pet therapy, mock interviews, reading with kids, senior breakfasts and bingo, and introducing healthy foods to children and families, for example. The best part: you can filter opportunities by your availability and what sort of service or population you’d like to work with.



2. One Brick – One-time Volunteering Made Easy


Focused on making volunteering simple, One Brick works with thousands of organizations to compile a calendar of volunteer opportunities. Choose one that fits your schedule, enjoy the social atmosphere, and top off your work with a drink at a nearby bar or restaurant. Fully run by volunteers, One Brick is always looking for new helpers like you to fill their opportunities around the city.


Events featured on their calendar include poker dealing, neighborhood food pantry meal service, preparing supplies for Girls on the Run youth self-esteem sessions, and support for special events.



3. Help Run the Old Town Art Fair on June 14 – 15


Did you know the Old Town Art Fair is completely volunteer planned, managed and staffed? Pulled off with a force of over 750 volunteers, the Old Town Art Fair is one of the most anticipated Chicago summer festivals. Help is needed at the entrance gates, manning booths while artists take a break, selling merchandise to benefit the Old Town neighborhood, supporting aid to the artists and more. This is a great way to give back to one of Chicago’s iconic neighborhoods and mingle with the city’s influential artists and visitors.



4. Support Runners on Race Day with CARA


CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association) is one of the most well-known running groups in the city, providing training and race day support to thousands of runners across Chicago. CARA is a non-profit group benefiting over 8600 runners, dedicated to expanding, motivating, celebrating and supporting Chicagoland’s running community. Volunteer support is needed for races throughout the year, particularly for race day aid stations, corral setup and more.



What opportunities have you taken to get out there and support Chicago?


{Image via Salvation Army}



  • http://www.sageserendipity.com Logan Meredith

    What a wonderful article! It’s always great to shine light on volunteer opportunities! It’s great to give back and so rewarding! I volunteer at PAWS Chicago: it’s a must for any animal lover looking to volunteer. The organization is top notch, facilities are lovely and their program is very easy to join.