By Emily Harrington
The gluttonous holidays are over, and the weather is blah. I’m filled with the need to do something different and new. I want to do something that will bring me a fresh perspective and a sense of fulfillment. I want to do something good for someone else.
Luckily our community is a giving one. There are MANY opportunities with so much flexibility—it’s hard to find an excuse not to help. There are options that work with all schedules, interests and skill sets. Some organizations even allow you to bring your kids into the fold—just ask. Share your skills by finding a cause that fits you and do good!
Volunteers and/or donations are always needed at the listed area organizations.
Do good to help kids:
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Illinois-Gives children facing adversity a guided, long-lasting relationship with an adult who will provide them with support and friendship. Try visiting an area school to mentor a child, or socializing with a child while exploring the community.
- Champaign County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children-Recruit, train and support volunteers who then advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in courtrooms and communities. Try pursuing the best interests of an abused and neglected child by studying their case and providing support.
- Crisis Nursery-Creates a safe haven dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and neglect by providing 24-hour emergency care for children and support to strengthen families in crisis. Try providing emotional/physical support to a child, maintaining gardens or coordinating special events.
- Don Moyer Boys & Girls Club-Provides a safe place outside of school for children to have fun, learn and grow. Try coaching, helping a student with homework or teaching a group about a skill you excel in.
- Girls on the Run of Champaign County-Inspires girls to be happy, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. Try coaching, assistant coaching or becoming a running buddy.
- YoungLife/WyldLife/YoungLives-Gives kids access to adults in the community who support and encourage them through the topsy-turvy years of adolescence. Try cooking a meal, babysitting little ones or even mentoring a student.
Do good to help families/individuals:
- American Red Cross, Central Illinois Chapter–Helps disaster victims, teaches CPR and first aid, trains children to live safer and supports military in eight counties in the Central Illinois Chapter. Try donating blood at one of the many drives or mobiles around town.
- Champaign County Habitat for Humanity-Builds and sells simple, quality, affordable houses for worthy families using a zero interest mortgage program through volunteers and donations. Try assisting on a build or working in a funding source, ReStore.
- Champaign Urbana Canteen Run-Distributes clothing and supplies to the homeless and needy throughout our community using a truck. The Canteen Run drives to designated stops in our towns while distributing supplies and information on local services to anyone they come across in need. Try driving the truck, sorting supplies or handing out supplies.
- Daily Bread Soup Kitchen-Serves hot meals to the hungry in our community. Each weekday volunteers serve around 200 guests on White Street in Champaign. On the weekends a mobile van hands out meals, too. Try preparing food, serving and cleaning up or picking up donated food and supplies.
- Developmental Services Center-Enhances the lives of individuals with disabilities by providing services and support which enable them to live, work, learn and participate in the community. Try fundraising, landscaping or microvolunteering (quick and easy opportunities).
- Family Service of Champaign County-Supports people in need, across generations, by providing quality human services. Try delivering meals or providing transportation to seniors.
- Goodwill-Funds job training programs, employment placement services and other community-based programs for those who need extra help. Try cleaning out your home and donating your unwanted items to our area donation spots (a funding source for Goodwill).
- Salt & Light Ministries-Provides opportunities for those living in poverty to equip themselves with the tools they need to create lasting change in their lives using a food co-op, Two Trees Thrift Store and classes. Try stocking food, sorting and hanging clothes, taking donations or light cleaning tasks.
- The Salvation Army of Champaign County-Provides emergency assistance to those in immediate need and support to those transitioning to more independent living. Try ringing bells next holiday season or shopping at the Salvation Army Thrift Store (a funding source for Salvation Army).
Do good to help men:
- Times Center-Serves as a transitional living program for homeless men while providing shelter and support services to prepare for independent living. The center also supports a community soup kitchen serving three meals daily. Try meal preparation, tutoring or working on a fundraising event.
Do good to help women:
- Courage Connection-Provides housing and supportive services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness or who are victims of domestic violence. Try manning the domestic violence hotline, leading a children’s playgroup or working at a funding source, Connections.
Do good to help animals:
- Champaign County Humane Society-Prevents cruelty to animals, promotes animal welfare and educates the public about the humane care and treatment of animals. They also provide shelter, medical and adoption services for animals when necessary. Try walking dogs, socializing with canines and felines, being a foster parent or even help with their annual garage sale.
Donation and volunteer needs are endless. Find what opportunity best suits you and your family.
Where do you volunteer? Tell us how you do good in the comments below.
Emily Harrington is a Chambana townie that left her 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job to be a 24/7 mom to a dreamy son. Still interested in writing, Emily uses some of naptime to practice her passion and keep her mind right. Emily is a happy wife with a happy life because she fell for a fellow townie. Oh, and let’s not forget her other son, a degenerate canine named Heppenheimer.