Editor’s note: I asked a couple of friends to compile a list of the good causes they donate to when they can. Obviously there are plenty of other worthy causes as well (Housing Forward and Growing Community Media spring to mind). But this represents a good cross-section:

Prisoner Visitation and Support – a nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia. PVS visitors visit prisoners in the U.S. federal prison system and military prisons. They offer companionship and friendship, with no religious or other agenda. Their particular focus is prisoners who don’t receive regular visits, are facing long sentences, and/or are in solitary confinement. https://www.prisonervisitation.org. 

Habitat for Humanity – a global nonprofit housing organization working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. and in approximately 70 countries. Habitat’s vision is of a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. https://www.habitat.org. 

Beyond Hunger (formerly Oak Park-River Forest Food Pantry) – provides hunger-relief programming and services to 13 zip codes across Cook County, including portions of Chicago and its near-west suburbs. Services range from helping people connect to benefits like SNAP (“food stamps”) and Medicare savings, to nutrition education and cooking classes led by registered dietitians, and summer meals for kids who lack them when school is out. https://www.gobeyondhunger.org.  

Franciscan Outreach is a leading provider of homeless services in Chicago. They offer healthy meals to those who are hungry, a warm bed for those who need shelter, vital case management for those who need guidance, and access to critical resources for those who need specialized services such as health care, mental health counseling, and substance use disorder treatment. https://franoutreach.org. 

Companions Journeying Together – reaches out to incarcerated women and men in Illinois through a variety of programs designed to build healthy relationships and foster positive communication between prisoners and their families. Projects include special holiday communication projects, provision of re-entry materials and referrals, community education/training, and advocacy. They record imprisoned parents reading books to their children and send the recording and book to the child; send birthday, Mother’s Day, and Christmas cards to imprisoned people; and organize pen pal clubs whose members correspond one-on-one with prisoners. https://cjtinc.org. 

TreesThatFeed.org – A wonderful couple in Winnetka created this way to give breadfruit trees to families in Haiti, Jamaica and elsewhere. These trees bear starchy nutrient-dense fruit in three years, give shade, prevent soil erosion, grab carbon, feed children in schools, and when given in numbers, they can provide an income and a sense of worth for families.

PBS (WTTW), WFMT, WBEZ – Public TV and radio and Chicago’s classical music station.

ChildrensDefense.org – helps children get what they need to survive and thrive.

OneEarthFilmFest.org – This amazing local eco-film fest is entering its 10th year! They are part of Green Community Connections. 

NationalHealthFreedomCoalition.org – To help ensure that we can continue to make individual choices for our health.

WomenForWomen.org – a remarkable program to educate, heal and support women who are victims of war and rape. They teach that women have rights and dignity and empower job skills. You can donate monthly to support a “sister” and her year-long empowerment program that truly is life changing. 

ArborDay.org – Arbor Day Foundation. More trees will help save us and the environment. These wise beings also grab carbon. 

VFW.org – Veterans of Foreign Wars

CitizensClimateLobby.org – CCL empowers people to work for climate change solutions with a carbon fee and dividend approach.

PleasantHome.org – A favorite place in the most beautiful park in Oak Park. Thanks, Park District of Oak Park. 

St. Martin de Porres Food Pantry – This monthly ministry is through Ascension Church, which collects groceries for the food pantry of their sister parish in Austin on the third weekend of the month.

DNC – The Democratic National Committee (or the Democratic Party of Oak Park)

HepzibahHome.org – helping highly traumatized children as well as other programs for children. They have had a Giving Tree for gifts for the kids at Whole Foods Market since 1994, but the virus prevented this outreach this year.

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee – UUSC.org, one of the best human rights organizations.

Parliament of World Religions – parliamentofreligions.org. Imagine a world where people of all religions have interreligious dialogue and work together, from the core of their religion’s teachings, to help the common good. This organization had its birth in 1893 in Chicago, the World’s Parliament of Religion at the Columbian Exposition. https://parliamentofreligions.org/parliament/1893-chicago. 

FaithInPlace.org – Faith in Place empowers Illinois people of all faiths to be leaders in caring for the Earth, providing resources to educate, connect, and advocate for a healthier environment and communities.

Heifer.org – It’s so easy to change a poor family’s life by donating one or more animals for food, nutrition, income and self-worth.

Oak Park River Forest Museum – our terrific local history repository at Lombard and Lake. https://oprfmuseum.org. 

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