If you’re looking for a way to give to your neighbors and community in Chicago, whether it be through monetary donations or your time, you have plenty of options to choose from. Here are just a handful of our favorite Chicago-based charities that we think make a positive impact on the lives of Chicago citizens.

Alliance for the Great Lakes

If you’re passionate about helping the area’s natural ecology, take a look at what the Alliance for the Great Lakes is up to. This large nonprofit organization has three major goals: to keep the Great Lakes clean, to improve drinking water, and to maintain habitats for native wildlife. The Alliance has reduced plastic pollution, fought algal blooms, and prevented water diversions since they began protecting the lakes in 1970.

There are many ways you can help the Alliance for the Great Lakes with its goals. You can:

  • Join the Adopt-a-Beach program in your community to team up with thousands of other volunteers who keep the shores of the Great Lakes Clean.
  • Donate funds to help protect the lakes.
  • Head to the Take Action section of the Alliance’s website to learn more about writing to your local Congress members about preserving the Great Lakes.

With so many ways to help the Alliance, making a difference is just a couple clicks away.

Anixter Center

Anixter Center is a large Chicago nonprofit that serves people with disabilities and behavioral health needs. The charity has been helping Chicago since 1919, making them one of the oldest, most established nonprofits in the city. The versatile assistance Anixter Center offers Chicagoans makes them a valuable resource for people with special needs in the area. Some services that the Anixter Center provides include adult literacy programs, life-skills training, and interpreter programs.

You can make a direct monetary donation to the Anixter Center to help them get the resources they need to continue serving the community. You can also volunteer for a number of different roles, such as helping with special events, tutoring, or giving direct support to people seeking Anixter’s services.

Connections for Abused Women and their Children

The Connections for Abused Women and their Children has been serving the Chicago area since 1977, providing protection and resources to families suffering from domestic violence. This charity’s overall mission is to end domestic violence by offering a spread of services to those who need them, including a 24-hour hotline people can call for help, counseling, advocacy, and a shelter.

You can help this charity by volunteering your time, especially if you have expertise in a certain field, such as legal work or psychology. You can also buy an item off the CAWC’s Amazon wishlist to send supplies straight to the charity’s offices or simply make a monetary donation to the charity’s general funds.

Gilda’s Club Chicago

Gilda’s Club Chicago is an organization that focuses on creating a community and support system for people whose lives have been affected by cancer. This nonprofit holds hundreds of community events at its Clubhouse every year. Yoga sessions, Zumba classes, group counseling, and many more events fill the calendar at Gilda’s Club. Thousands of people visit the club every year for support and a sense of togetherness.

If you want to support Gilda’s Club Chicago, you can sign up to make recurring or one-time donations. If you enjoy running marathons, you can join Team Gilda to raise awareness and funds for the program. You can also volunteer your time at the Clubhouse in a variety of ways, such as greeting visitors or offering lessons on cooking and other life skills.

Greater Chicago Food Depository

Supporting food banks is one of the easiest ways to give to your community, and their importance to the areas they serve are paramount. The Greater Chicago Food Depository is one of Chicago’s largest food bank networks, made up of over 700 programs, such as soup kitchens, food pantries, and more.

As Cook County’s needs change, so does the way the Greater Chicago Food Depository helps the communities, addressing the needs of specific demographics. Whether you donate or volunteer with this charity, you can feel good knowing you made an immediate and important impact on the Chicago area.

My Block, My Hood, My City

My Block, My Hood, My City, also known as M3, is a Chicago-based nonprofit that aims to help underprivileged youth gain a perspective beyond their neighborhood. This nonprofit allows youth to explore STEM fields, art, community development, and entrepreneurship. The idea is to show kids that there is more to life than the block where they are growing up and that they can shape their future to their liking more than it may seem.

To make an impact on Chicago’s youth, you can join the bimonthly One Block at a Time Initiative, which supports local block clubs through tasks such as cleaning up streets and alleys and helping seniors mow their yards. If you’re short on time, you can also buy merchandise from M3 or make direct donations to the nonprofit.

PAWS Chicago

As its name might suggest, PAWS Chicago focuses on protecting the furry citizens of the Chicago area. PAWS’ main goal is creating no-kill communities for the greater Chicago area, a goal it has made leaps and bounds toward. In 1997, there were over 42,000 pets euthanized in Chicago. That was also the year PAWS Chicago was founded. In 2018, less than 4,000 pets were euthanized, thanks to nonprofit work of organizations like PAWS.

If you’re passionate about helping homeless animals in the area, there are quite a few ways you can help. You can sign up to volunteer at one of PAWS’ adoption centers, shelters, or medical facilities. You can foster a pet until it finds its forever home, or you can donate food, supplies, or funds. And, of course, every pet you adopt is a pet saved.

These Chicago charities are just a few of our favorite at American Auto Insurance. If you know of a great charity that you think should be on this list, let us know. We’re always looking for a new way to help others in need.


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