It’s that time of year again. The streets are bathed in holiday lights, window displays beckon shoppers, and anticipation of upcoming family get-togethers puts an extra spring in our step, even as the temperatures drop. During this special time of year, we can’t help but stop for a moment and take stock of all we’re grateful for.
And this year at Families in the Loop, we’re extra thankful. Why? Because we’re approaching our one-year anniversary! There’s simply no better time to reflect and give thanks for all the people who have supported and encouraged us along the way.
Throughout this past year, fellow entrepreneurs and Chicago business owners have shared their knowledge and expertise with us in abundance. Families and friends from around the neighborhood have enthusiastically hopped on the FITL bandwagon, volunteering their time to make FITL a spectacular hub for families. For all of this and more, we are truly thankful. We really are an example of what is possible when two moms come together with a small idea, along with big dreams and tremendous love for Chicago’s one-of-a-kind family community.
And there’s no better time than Thanksgiving to put some muscle behind our gratitude and get the kids involved in giving back. FITL guru and On The Go Chicago founder Cindy McCarthy has some guaranteed feel-good ways for the whole family to participate.
- Just because your children may be too young to volunteer at a soup kitchen (the majority don’t allow volunteers under 12 doesn’t mean they can’t give back while being hands on. Get your whole family in philanthropic gear by organizing a drive for diapers, warm coats, food, letters to the troops, pet supplies, and more. Plus, your home-crafted event doubles as a great reason to get together with your friends and neighbors.
- Cold winter nights are perfect for snuggling up in a cozy pair of pajamas, so what better way to give back this season than by throwing a pajama party? Ask attendees to bring one new pair of pajamas and a book to donate to the Pajama Program. Alternatively, bundle up and head outdoors for a neighborhood dog parade. Ask participants to bring dog food and leashes to donate to the Animal Welfare League. Be creative and have fun with it!
- Giving back often feels the best when the cause resonates with you or your family personally, so take time to talk with your kids about different charitable organizations and see what strikes a chord. Then pick an organization to support based on what the whole family is most passionate about.
Following are some local and national organizations to consider partnering with:
- Bundle of Joy Diaper Bank is a not-for-profit diaper bank serving families in Chicago’s most economically depressed neighborhoods.
- The Pajama Program provides new pajamas and books to children in need.
- One Warm Coat provides people in need with a warm coat, free of charge. One Warm Coat works with more than 30 Chicagoland agencies whose clients would not otherwise be able to secure a warm coat for the winter.
- Animal Welfare League is committed to helping every pet find a loving home. Needed pet products for donation include toys, food, litter, and treats.
- Operation Gratitude annually sends 100,000 care packages filled with snacks, entertainment items, and personal letters of appreciation addressed to individual U.S. service members deployed abroad, their children at home, and wounded warriors recuperating in transition units.
- New Moms Inc., located in Logan Square, seeks to enable, empower, and equip at-risk adolescent parents and their children through services and mentoring. New Moms gratefully accepts donations of new toiletries, toys, baby gear, diapers, and wipes.
As we at FITL reflect on what we are thankful for, you, Chicago Parent reader, are in our thoughts. We are so grateful for the opportunity we’ve had to play, learn and grow together and can’t wait for another amazing year of fun with you!
~By Jamie Fishman & Wendy Widom, Families in the Loop