'Tis the season for giving: Here's how you can help
The bounty of the holiday season, enjoyed by many, also serves to emphasize the plight of society's less fortunate. In Chicago, the cold weather often exacerbates the problems of those people who are already in marginal situations.
A variety of opportunities exist to help the area's homeless and other people in need. Individuals interested in helping can donate time, food, money or clothing to various local agencies -- not just during the holidays, but throughout the year.
"Many of us are only one paycheck away from the other side of the table," said the Rev. Jerry Wise of First Presbyterian Church, which serves lunch for 300 to 400 people once a week. " 'Food for life' is what we like to call our service -- it's friend helping friend, people in the community helping other people in the community."
Below is a list of some area organizations that provide food, shelter or other programs for the homeless and needy, along with each organization's specific needs, if any.
At the University
The Giving Tree Contact: Daphne Earley, 702-5359
A University student group whose goals are to raise community awareness and to address issues concerning the homeless. Conducts three different tutoring programs for students from the Cabrini Green public-housing community and the Woodlawn neighborhood. Renovates apartments at Cabrini Green every other week. Feeds 100 to 200 homeless people every Sunday. Meets during the second week of each quarter in Ida Noyes Hall; call for details. Also collects clothing and food and conducts events throughout the year to heighten awareness about the surrounding communities as well as about homelessness. Contributions of clothing -- socks, hats, gloves and scarves are particularly needed during the winter -- can be dropped off in the box outside Ida's Cafe in Ida Noyes Hall.
University Community Service Center Ida Noyes Hall, Room 306 Contact: Nilufar Rezai, 753-4483
A University-sponsored center that provides information on volunteer opportunities with student and community-based organizations in the city of Chicago. Information on national groups is also available.
In the community
The Blue Gargoyle University Church 5655 S. University Ave. Contact: Barbara Cramer, 955-4108
An agency that offers tutoring for children and adults as well as an adult literacy program and counseling services. Needs volunteers to tutor children and adults in math, reading, writing and other subjects.
Clara's House 1650 W. 62nd St. Contact: Clara Kirk, 778-8854
A family shelter for single, homeless and battered women and their children. Has 69 beds and provides residents with health screenings, tutoring, nutritional information, parenting instruction, counseling and job assistance. An associated organization, West Englewood United Organization/Clara's House, operates an emergency food pantry, provides immunizations and sponsors a neighborhood festival.
Community Supportive Living Systems Inc. Contact: Herschel Gamble, 239-0501
Provides transitional living for 30 male youths and young-adult men in two communal living facilities and scattered-site apartments in Hyde Park. Also has programs for adolescents and clients affected by HIV/AIDS.
Feed the People Open Kitchen Kenwood United Church of Christ 4608 S. Greenwood Ave. Contact: Rev. Leroy Saunders, 373-2861 Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Serves noontime meals four days a week to 175 people. Volunteers are always welcome. Call 536-9059 or drop in. Sponsored by the Hyde Park and Kenwood Interfaith Council. Wednesday lunches are served at the Hyde Park Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 4608 S. Drexel Ave.
First Presbyterian Church 64th Street & Kimbark Avenue Contact: Rev. Jerry Wise, 363-0505
Serves lunch for 300 to 400 people at 1 p.m. every Tuesday. Volunteers are needed to help set up, serve food and clean up. Donations of paper supplies, such as plates and napkins, are always needed. The church also runs a food pantry that is open whenever it has food; donations of canned goods are always accepted.
Hyde Park and Kenwood Interfaith Council Food Pantry Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church 4840 S. Dorchester Ave. Contact: Jan Deckenbach (volunteer coordinator), 702-7034 General phone number: 363-1620. Hours: Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Distributes emergency supplies of groceries to residents who live between 43rd and 60th streets, from Cottage Grove Avenue to the lake. Serves an average of 150 people each week. Also offers informal job counseling and referral services. Volunteers are needed to put together food packages and to help with clerical work. Food and monetary donations are always welcome; checks may be sent directly to the Hyde Park and Kenwood Interfaith Council (designate for the food pantry), 1448 E. 53rd St., Chicago, Ill. 60615.
Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization 1238 E. 46th St. Contact: Karen Bozeman-Gross, 548-7500
A social-service organization that offers community-development programs, adult education, welfare-to-work programs, home repair for senior citizens and the disabled, and an emergency food pantry that is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. Monetary donations are always welcome, especially during the holiday season. Volunteer opportunities are available on an as-needed basis. Currently conducting a program in which families in need are "adopted" by groups, with each group providing Christmas gifts and a food package for one family.
Matthew House Supportive Service Center 3610 S. Giles Ave. Contact: Sandra Collins, 536-2528, or the Rev. Sanja Stinson, 536-3661 Hours: Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
A center for the homeless that offers a variety of services, including provision of care packages and assistance in finding housing. Serves two hot meals -- breakfast and lunch -- every weekday. Helps 40 to 50 people per day, mostly men but also women and children. Always in need of men's clothing, including coats, thermal underwear, gloves, etc. Volunteers, cash donations and donations of meals are always welcome. Toys for children and gift certificates for local restaurants are particularly welcome during the holiday season.
Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church Refuge Center 4840 S. Dorchester Ave. Contact: Myke Humphrey or Jean Moreland, 268-2733 (24 hours a day)
Short-term and intermediate-term shelter for women with dependent children. Provides parenting counseling, substance-abuse treatment, employment referrals and health-care services. Donations of food, baby formula, toiletries, toys and bedding are always welcome, as are volunteers to work with the children.
St. Gelasius Catholic Church 6415 S. Woodlawn Ave. Contact: Brother Damien, 363-6500
Runs a food pantry that is open from noon to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Serves 400 families every month. Occasionally needs volunteers to create and distribute parcels. Food donations are always welcome. Can provide pickup service for contributions.
St. Martin De Porres House of Hope 6423 S. Woodlawn Ave. Contact: Sister Therese, 643-5843
A shelter for women and children that provides such services as job training, child care and substance-abuse rehabilitation for 120 people. Volunteers are needed to help tutor children and take them on outings, and to visit with the women living in the shelter. Food and monetary contributions are always welcome; the shelter is funded entirely by private donations.
Unity House 4331-33 S. Vincennes Ave. Contact: Anniece Seymore, 285-2668
A second-stage housing facility that houses residents for six to 24 months. Residents include mothers 18 and older and their children. Can house up to seven families at a time. Residents learn how to budget money and participate in seminars on such topics as substance-abuse prevention and how to build self-esteem. Funded through a combination of public and private funds. Greatest need is for a team of volunteers to help with child care -- the mothers are either in school or working. Also occasionally needs volunteers for special occasions, such as Christmas parties. Always needs donations of small household items, such as dish towels and wastebaskets, and small appliances.
Homeless Help Line: For information on other shelters in Chicago, call 563-1600, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.