Lend a helping hand: 5 ways for Chicago families to give back

For a while I stopped watching the evening news because I became overwhelmed with the countless stories of violence and despair around the world. I thought if I just turned off the TV it would all go away and I could exist in a bubble of ignorance.

But then I log onto Twitter or Facebook and these stories find me there. As I read and push back tears of anger and frustration I ask myself, “What can I do?” How can I help children attending schools in Chicago’s Austin community without teachers? What about the children living in refugee camps in Sudan? Polio has been eradicated in the United States, but there are reports that it may be coming back in Syria. If you are like me, you are wondering where to begin. Here are my five suggestions for simple ways you can help.

Lend a hand

Whether you help out one time or you find an ongoing opportunity, the easiest way to give back is to give your time. Chicago Cares is one amazing organization that provides volunteer opportunities around the city. Since 1991, Chicago Cares volunteers have completed 1.4 million volunteer hours. This is also a great opportunity to get the whole family involved in making a difference.

Send an email (or letter)

I’m a firm believer in the power of advocacy. Regardless of how you feel about the state of our government, it’s important that you let your voice be heard to elected officials. Bring attention to a cause that you feel passionate about by emailing, calling or writing a letter to your alderman, congressman or senator.

Just give

There are so many charities that solicit funds to support a variety of causes locally and around the globe. There are also many websites that can help you navigate which charities are legitimate and which ones are scams. Do your research and give what you can.

Family vacation with a twist

As your family makes spring break and Memorial Day vacation plans, why not engage in some act of service? It could be as simple as doing some random acts of kindness in the town you are visiting or partnering with Habitat for Humanity to build a home for a week.

Get to know your neighbors

I am convinced that many of the problems that exist in the world could be solved if we simply took the time to get to know one another. I’m surprised at the number of people who couldn’t name a single family that lives on their block. We can transform our neighborhoods by building a sense of community. This means hosting block parties, creating an email list or even shoveling each other’s snow. Having a strong sense of community is a key ingredient to building a safer world for all of us to live.

What tips do you have for wanting to alleviate some of the problems that plague our society?

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