11 Ways to Help Locally This Holiday Season

Barbara Szul

Clients work in a field at Aarrk Gardens in Hebron, IL.Image courtesy of Aarrk Gardens

Just a little can greatly help a McHenry County nonprofit this holiday season.

To that end, Not-for-Profit Resources (NFPR), a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping other nonprofits grow stronger, has compiled a list of 11 specific and easy-to-do ways to help locally this holiday season.

Some donations sought won’t cost a cent—just the effort of cleaning out your storage area of gently used castaways. Others will bring the holly-jolly to your Christmas by knowing that you’ve helped put a smile on the face of an at-risk child, a person experiencing homelessness, a veteran or an elderly adult.

Here are NFPR’s ideas:

1. AARRK GARDENS has a small farm in Hebron where individuals can get a part-time job to help themselves out of homelessness. They help up to 30 people a year and are always in need of gardening and farm equipment. “Right now, we are in desperate need of a riding mower and a manure spreader,” Executive Director Janet Dolan said. “Anything used is fine. As long as it is in working order, we’re not picky.” Call: 815-943-0344.

2. BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS (BBBS) of McHenry County matches hundreds of Littles (kids facing adversity) with Bigs (caring mentors) each year. They are always in need of crafting supplies, games and toys, according to Executive Director Leslie Blake. To donate, call BBBS at 815-385-3855 or email haley.draper@bbbsmchenry.org.

3. CRÈME DE LA CRÈME ANIMAL FOUNDATION (CDLC) in Algonquin is a sanctuary for dogs, cats and farm animals. Currently, they are caring for rescued cats and kittens and are on the lookout for dry and wet cat food as well as old linens and towels that they can repurpose for the animals. CDLC (1325 S. Main St., Algonquin) has a donation bin on its deck that can be accessed 24/7. Call 847-513-3374 or email cdlcvolunteers@yahoo.com.

4. INDEPENDENCE HEALTH AND THERAPY offers behavioral health services and runs a physical therapy clinic and an adult daycare center in Woodstock. They seek monetary donations to help cover the $125-a-day cost to provide services to an individual in their adult daycare program. “Any donation amount would be greatly appreciated,” Donna Pace, the group’s marketing/communications coordinator, said. Call 815-338-3590 or visit their website at independencehealth.org.

5. ON ANGELS’ WINGS PET RESCUE & RESALE STORE helps hundreds of cats and dogs a year. They always need kitten food and dry dog food but are looking for premium brands for the health of their rescues. They also need slip leads, puppy teething rings and pill pockets. “On Angels' Wings is always seeking donations of pet products,” Vanessa Candow, director of development, said. “For those who cannot help monetarily, helping out at our rescue, resale store or by temporarily fostering a pet” are welcome alternatives. Donation drop-off: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, 6500 Northwest Hwy., Crystal Lake Plaza, 2D. Call: 815-356-8170.

6. PURRFECT CAT RESCUE helps felines throughout the county through their headquarters in Crystal Lake. They shelter, then re-home up to 400 cats and kittens each year and since opening their doors in 2019 have rescued more than 1,000 cats. Topping their wish list: scoopable litter and small paper plates. “Everything we do is based on fundraising and donations,” group founder Deb Parquette said. Call 815-900-8221 or visit purrfectcatrescue.com.

7. NEW DIRECTIONS ADDICTION AND RECOVERY SERVICES is a group of people in recovery helping others to overcome addictions. They need supplies for their sober-living homes, including but not limited to canned goods, shampoo and laundry detergent. To learn more and to schedule a donation drop-off to their Woodstock office, call Chris at 779-220-0336.

8. TURNING POINT, INC., has a mission to “to confront domestic violence in McHenry County.” Since opening their doors more than 40 years ago, they have provided safe shelter for 1,500-plus residents. Because their needs are ever-changing, their biggest donation wish is for gift cards from Walmart, Target and Jewel as well as gas and Uber cards. Call: 815-338-8081.

9. YOUR CHILDREN’S BOOKSHELF (YCB) fosters literacy and education by encouraging the love of reading. They need books, books, books—gently used for newborns through 8th graders. Donated books are then given free through their donor/partner programs. For more details, contact YCB at https://yourchildrensbookshelf.org/contact-us.

10. VETERANS PATH TO HOPE (VPH), based in Crystal Lake, has been aiding at-risk veterans and their families for more than 25 years. Their programs help homeless veterans find housing, guide unemployed veterans to jobs and offer respite to family members caring for disabled veterans. You can help with donations to their food pantry. Items sought include fresh vegetables and small packages of chicken, beef and pork chops. “Keep in mind, this is a time when we see an uptick in homelessness in veterans,” Executive Director Laura Franz said. Call 815-321-HOPE to learn about VPH’s donation process.

11. VOLUNTEER ADULT LITERACY PROGRAM at McHenry County College helps students who are improving their reading, math or English language skills. They need books. You can learn more by following this link to contact Marie Day: https://insidemcc.mchenry.edu/pubwebapp/adultVolunteer/

NFPR also hopes that you will consider volunteering this holiday season—or any time of year!

Last year, NFPR connected more than 3,500 community members with local volunteer needs. On any given day, their volunteer portal is home to 150-250 volunteer needs posted by more than 100 nonprofits. You can browse the portal by interest, distance, age, agency name and other factors at https://www.nfpresources.org/volunteers.html.

Note: The value of volunteer time in Illinois in 2020 was $29.37 per hour, according to Independent Sector. So, even one hour of your time and talent can have a major impact on a local nonprofit.

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An involved community member writing on the work and mission of local nonprofits and others who help where and when needed.

McHenry County, IL

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