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Where to Donate Gifts This Holiday Season

By Alex Nitkin | November 23, 2015 6:34am
 A display in the Chicago Food Depository warehouse shows examples of the 18 most commonly needed core food items. 
A display in the Chicago Food Depository warehouse shows examples of the 18 most commonly needed core food items. 
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

CHICAGO — Every year when the holiday season approaches, a familiar host of charity organizations comes forward to ask Chicagoans to share their blessings with those less fortunate.

But alongside the usual standbys like Goodwill and the Salvation Army are dozens of other organizations looking to provide everything from food and home goods to office supplies and formal clothing for people in need.

With that in mind, here are seven ways to be caring and compassionate for less fortunate Chicagoans this year.

Help fight hunger. With hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans struggling to pay to keep their families fed, the Greater Chicago Food Depository is always in need of support. Whether it's through cash donations, food drives or volunteering in kitchens, giving to the food depository means helping keep thousands of children from going to bed hungry this winter.

Help struggling Chicago families through tough times. Metropolitan Family Services is one of the city's leaders in offering financial support and education programs to working families in search of jobs and housing. In addition to cash donations, Metropolitan Family Services is always looking for household items ranging from toiletries to furniture, clothing and toys. 

Help take care of Illinois veterans. With more than 1.5 million American military veterans living in poverty, Illinois Amvets offers counseling and material support to everyone in the state who's been honorably discharged from the armed forces. Those who want to send their support can do so without even leaving their home; the organization sends trucks all over the Chicago area to pick up donations of usable clothing and small household items.

Help chronically unemployed Chicagoans land jobs. Since 2006, Bridge to Success has been providing interview workshops and business attire to help disadvantaged Chicagoans into the world of full employment. In a system where appearances and first impressions are often crucial, every donation of formal clothing can help a potential employee get her foot in the office door. 

Help elderly Chicagoans stay happy and fulfilled. At a time when many people are spending time with loved ones, the holidays can be a lonely and isolating stretch for Chicago's elderly population. Through events, workshops and partnerships, Little Brothers of Chicago helps seniors feel engaged and connected to their peers. The organization is always accepting online donations.

Help fight HIV and support Chicago's LGBT community. Through primary medical care, research and education, the Howard Brown Health Center has been supporting gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender Chicagoans for 39 years. Clothes and accessories can be donated to any of three Brown Elephant resale shops in Uptown, Andersonville and Lakeview, with all sale proceeds going directly to Howard Brown.

Help sick children find joy. A hospital bed is the last place any child wants to be during the holidays, but toy donations can help make the experience easier. Lurie Children's Hospital Downtown and Comer Children's Hospital on the South Side are always accepting toys and gifts.

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