Service Opportunities for younger children

By Elaine Luther

Oak Park Area Volunteer Center comes out with a booklet every summer of places that accept kids, what ages, what jobs, etc.


Animal Care League accepts kid volunteers, ages 8 and up, with an adult to walk dogs and socialize kittens. Working with animals is often recommend as a place to start volunteering for kids. Kids often want to help animals and other children.

Food Preparation

– You can make meals for PADS, which is Public Action to Deliver Shelter

– You can make meals, cookies, etc., for the Ronald McDonald House near Loyola. Families stay there while their kids are in Loyola if they live to far and/or they can’t afford a hotel. It’s $5.00/night. They have three kitchens and families can cook or just eat whatever shows up.

They give a tour, perhaps a group could go for the tour and then do a meal or meal schedule.

Hand Crafts

If the kids knit at all, there are a number of opportunities. One is Red Scarf, a project by a group that helps adult orphans — folks who are in college and were never adopted. The promotion is around Valentine’s Day, they collect red scarves and hats, (though they’ll allow accept other colors), preferably hand knitted, and send them to the orphans.

Here is a story about a teen girl who earned her Girl Scout Gold Award (the highest award in Girl Scouting) with service to Red Scarf:

Another group is Warm Up America where you make afghan squares and send them in and they assemble them and distribute them.

Of course, there is always the NICU. Neo natal intensive care. At Loyola they accept tiny blankets and quilts for the tiny babies there. We were in the NICU, and it’s horrible to go home without your baby. So the baby uses the blanket, and you get to take home the blanket, it’s a comfort. The blankets are incredibly important. I have made some blankets and quilts for them, and my mother in law has make dozens of little blankets.

They have regular church donation programs who give to them, but they also accept from individuals.

All the hospitals we have been in (Loyola, U Chicago, Children’s Memorial), give the children a blanket, at least, sometimes a blanket and a handmade toy. So a child could make a blanket for any hospital, not just the NICU. NICU blankets are just really small, which makes them more manageable.

Project Linus

Find complete local chapter listings at the website, here are a couple;

Chicago (Western Suburbs)/LaGrange

Contact: Suzanne

(708) 482-9872

North & Central Chicagoland

Contact: Linda

(847) 498-6074

or Contact: Judi

(847) 498-3987

Oak Park/Near West Suburbs

Contact: Sharon

(773) 339-3395

You can donate to hospitals as an individual, or through Project Linus. Project Linus chapters sometimes offer sewing days, where folks can get together and make blankets. They also give polar fleece blankets that are made without sewing, so this type of project is approachable by all ages and skill levels.

You could organize a quilting “bee,” with the help of your local quilting guild — you work with a church for some space, everyone brings their machine if they have one, and the experienced sewers teach the kids and inexperienced folks to piece quilts. Experienced folks do the harder bits and in a weekend a tremendous number of quilts are produced.

Inexpensive fabric can be found at Textile Discount Outlet on 22nd Place in Pilsen.

Collection Drives

Another thing kids can do is collection drives. Usually they do these at schools, so it’s harder for a homeschooled kid to come up with a community to work with. Church or temple would be handy. Lots of groups have a need for stuff, though of course the child should ask first so that the group is ready to accept whatever is on offer. The family waiting room at the Loyola NICU needs more sibling toys, for example. Battered women’s shelters usually have a list of things they want. Coat, toy and food drives are all possibilities.

One year, I worked with a group of Junior Girl Scouts and they made homemade lip balm, which they poured into nice tins, and gave those to the women and girls at a shelter. They made 79 tins in one day!

~Elaine Luther

Elaine Luther

Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor

http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com (TM)

Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

(Thanks Elaine or volunteering to do all of this research!-Kim)

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