CHICAGO — The holidays aren’t just about getting gifts — they’re also about giving.
And Chicago is teeming with nonprofits, mutual aid groups and organizations that have made it their mission to give back to people in need in and around the city.
We’ve rounded up more than 30 neighborhood initiatives across Chicago that have provided food, protective equipment, money and other support to people in need.
This list is not exhaustive — there are so many resources and networks meeting neighbors’ needs, it doesn’t even highlight all the efforts we’ve covered with Block Club.
If you know of any other initiatives not previously covered in Block Club or would like to share updates on efforts we have written about, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some options for receiving or providing help:
Above and Beyond is an outpatient addiction treatment facility that relies on private funding to ensure no one is ever turned away when in need. The West Side-based facility has created a pantry for neighbors in need. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
A Home Within, which has a Chicago chapter, supports children who are in or who have gone through foster care by matching them with therapists who can provide mental health care. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
The American Indian Center works to preserve Native American culture and help Indigenous people in Chicago and neighbors. It has a year-round educational program for youth and has provides services like free food to neighbors in need. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
Asian Youth Services was founded to assist refugee families fleeing from genocide, war and oppression in Southeast Asia. It provides tutoring services and mentoring relationships to youth in Albany Park. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
Avondale Mutual Aid provides various services, including getting items to people in need with infants and people experiencing homelessness. You can volunteer or make donations. The group shares updates on Instagram. Website.
Belmont Cragin Mutual Aid connects neighbors in need with groceries and other supplies in the Belmont Cragin area, even delivering food to folks on Saturday mornings. You can volunteer or make donations. The group shares updates on Instagram. Website.
Bernie’s Book Bank provides free, quality book to under-served children in and around Chicago. Every child who participates gets a free bag of books every year. The organization has given away more than 20 million books so far. You can donate new and gently used books at more than 150 locations. You can volunteer. Or you can make a monetary donation. Website.
Brave Space Alliance is a Black- and trans-led LGBTQ center that is based in Hyde Park but works with neighbors throughout Chicago. It runs a community pantry for people in need, offers monetary assistance to trans people of color and created a makeup room where eligible people can pick up makeup for free, among other services. You can volunteer. You can make donations of items or money. Website.
Bronzeville/Kenwood Mutual Aid is a grassroots group of neighbors that provides a variety of services, including offering supplies to new mothers, providing residents with personal protective equipment and helping people with food and transportation. You can volunteer. You can donate. Website.
Chicago Community Jail Support is a mutual aid project run by volunteers to help people being released from Cook County Jail and their loved ones. The group provides people with clothing, phone calls, snacks, safe transportation home, emergency housing and other goods and services. You can make donations of items or money. You can volunteer in person or from home. Here are more options for giving. Website.
Chicago Hopes For Kids provides educational support for kids living in Chicago shelters. It has after-school and summer programs, among other opportunities, and kids get help with homework and reading. You can volunteer. You can donate. Website.
Chicago Roo Crew is a grassroots group that rescues and finds permanent homes for homeless roosters and hens in and around Chicago. You can make a monetary donation to the group to help it pay for chickens’ veterinary bills. Website.
The Chinese Mutual Aid Association provides a variety of services — including adult education, citizen and immigration help and youth programs — to low-income immigrants and refugees. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
Grace Housing Complex is an economic and community development organization that provides low-income families with healthy food, support services, development opportunities and affordable housing in the Chicagoland area. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
The Greater Chicago Food Depository provides food to people in need and has supplied pop-up food pantries on the South and West sides throughout the pandemic, from South Shore to Bronzeville to Little Village. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
Gyrls in the H.O.O.D. Foundation provides Chicagoland girls with a variety of services, including providing reproductive and sexual health education so they can make informed decisions. It’s collecting donations of hygiene items, like toothbrushes and deodorant, to create kids for girls. You can read about how it created a shelter for young women here. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
Healthy Hood works to end the life expectancy gap between under-served and high-income communities by providing residents in need with resources and programs that will cultivate their minds, bodies and consciences. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
The Hyde Park resource network, founded by Laura Staley, was one of the first mutual aid resources to pop up in Hyde Park at the beginning of the pandemic. It provides supplies to neighbors in need. You make a monetary donation. Website.
The Irving Park Community Food Pantry is holding a toy drive, hoping to fill the stockings of at least 300 area kids 12 and younger. It’s asking supporters to donate items online through its Amazon or Target gift registries. Website.
The Lakeview Pantry, founded by Jo Bolger 51 years ago to combat inequity in the neighborhood, has seen record-breaking requests for food assistance during the pandemic. You can volunteer. You can make a donation of items or money. Website.
Lincoln Square Ravenswood Solidarity Network is part of Chicago’s network of mutual aid groups. It provides food, supplies and resources to neighbors in need. You can volunteer or make a donation of items or money. Website.
Love Fridge is a mutual aid group that helps neighbors create free fridges and pantries in Chicago neighborhoods. People can leave food donations at the fridges and people in need can stop by to get supplies. You can volunteer. You can host a fridge. Website.
The Middle Eastern Immigrant and Refugee Alliance supports refugees coming to the Chicago area while ensuring it preserves and exchanges Middle Eastern culture. It helps refugees and immigrants access services like health care and public benefits. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
Molasses is a collective of Black transgender artists supporting fellow Black trans people. Members and donors contribute to services like direct monetary aid and self-defense classes. You can read our story about the collective’s efforts here. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
The Network is a group dedicated to improving the lives of people impacted by domestic violence through education, public policy and advocacy. The organization created a Crisis Response Fund that directly gives cash assistance to survivors of gender-based violence. Here’s how you can donate or otherwise support its work. Website.
Nita’s Love Train provides supplies of all kinds — food, strollers, blankets and more — to families with young children. It holds pop-ups where members give away items, and it delivers to people in need on the South and West sides. You can volunteer and donate supplies or money. Website.
One Tail at a Time is an animal shelter that helps dogs, cats and rabbits find permanent homes and provides medical care to homeless animals. It also runs a pet mutual aid network so owners in need can get supplies for furry family members. You can volunteer. You can provide a temporary home to an animal by fostering. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
Pilsen Social Health Initiative provides a variety of resources — a food pantry, a free library, mutual aid and more — to fight poverty and help neighbors. You can read about its work here. You can donate. Website.
Red Door Shelter is a no-kill shelter that helps foster and adopt out cats, dogs, rabbits and, occasionally, a stray duck or chicken. You can provide a temporary home to an animal by fostering. You can donate supplies or money. Website.
The Resident Association of Greater Englewood, known as R.A.G.E., provides a multitude of services around Englewood, promoting businesses, creating neighborhood murals and exploring new ways of empowering residents. It works to promote relationships among neighbors and address community problems. You can become a member of R.A.G.E. or make a monetary donation. Website.
The Southwest Collective is a coalition of groups based on the Southwest Side that are trying to build community while tackling issues related to development, crime and placemaking. It provides supplies to families in need during events. You can volunteer and donate items or money. Website.
Wicker Park Bucktown Mutual Aid provides resources to neighbors in need. You can volunteer and make a donation of items or money. Website.
Did we miss your favorite neighborhood spot? Not to worry! Add it to our Block Club reader guide, which will come out in early December.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: