7 ways to give back as a family this season


By Donna Bozzo


There’s a lot of good to gobble up this month and so much to be grateful for, so why not give thanks this year by giving back as a family? The just dessert: Rich, warm wonderful family time spent together.


Here are some ideas to get you started.

The Honeycomb Project

Created in 2011, The Honeycomb Project focuses on family volunteering. The folks at Honeycomb work with more than 45 organizations, creating quality projects that bring together people of different ages and abilities to develop a deeper understanding of local issues, share their skills and work toward a common goal. All ages are welcome, with most projects best suited for adults and their kids 5-13.

Honeycomb projects help at-risk, homeless and low-income individuals and families, and improve natural and recreational areas in underserved and impoverished neighborhoods.

1658 N. Milwaukee Ave., #190, Chicago; (773) 750-7120.

Ronald McDonald House

The folks at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana provide a home away from home every night for 153 families, offering families a welcoming place to rest, relax, have a home-cooked meal, meet other families and find the emotional support they need so they can focus 100 percent on their child in the hospital. How can you help? Volunteer to host a family activities night or bake cookies together at a Ronald McDonald House near you.


Find Ronald McDonald houses in Oak Lawn, Chicago, Hines, Naperville and Winfield

Tree House Humane Society

Tree House Humane Society is a cageless, no-kill organization specializing in the rescue and rehabilitation of sick and injured stray cats. Kids under 16 can volunteer with their parents, helping provide daily care—feeding, cleaning, grooming and playing with the 200 cats taking shelter there.


1212 W. Carmen Ave., Chicago; (773) 784-5488.

Little Brothers Friends Of The Elderly Chicago Chapter

Looking for a fast and flexible family volunteer project?  During the month of December, brighten the holiday season by visiting an isolated elder and delivering a special gift. Simply pick up the gifts at Little Brothers and deliver them in a neighborhood convenient for you. If you have more time to give, you and your family can volunteer to deliver monthly food bags or even get paired with an elderly person for regular bi-monthly visits.


355 N. Ashland Ave, Chicago; (312) 455-1000.

Greater Chicago Food Depository

Sign up to help distribute 66 million pounds of food to Chicago’s hungry. Your family can help assemble food boxes for other families during monthly Kid Days. Or even host your own food drive at myfooddrive.org.

4100 W. Ann Lurie Place, Chicago; (773) 247-3663.

All For Good

All For Good provides a smorgasbord of volunteer opportunities, allowing you to pick what’s best for you and your family. Find everything from tutoring to reading poems to children to donating used books.

Lincoln Park Zoo

A fun way to get into the holiday and giving spirit is by bringing cheer to everyone. Kids 14 years or older can volunteer with their folks to help at ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo running from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day.

2001 N. Clark St., Chicago; (312) 742-2000.

Kids Eat Chicago

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