Now more than ever the organizations dedicated to uplifting our city need our support. To start off our list here are three whose missions and work we believe in whole-heartedly. Each month we will spotlight additional groups. To nominate a charitable organization please send an email to email@example.com with the subject line GIVING and tell us about your nominee and why they’re important to you.
Coat Angels was an incredible organization that provided warm winter essentials to children in need in the Chicago Public School system. When the temperature dropped, teachers would identify students who regularly showed up without the necessary warm clothing and Coat Angels would provide a fleece, coat, hat gloves, and scarf. They did so unobtrusively, conscious of the dignity of children. When I heard about the program, I thought there would be a handful of children at my neighborhood school, the reality was that it was hundreds. I was a young single mother, going to school and waiting tables, I thought that we were struggling. It was an impactful lesson about how fortunate we were and I was, to be employed, to have access to education, to have free time to donate to my community, to not know first-hand the pain of not being able to provide necessities for my child. Last year they merged with Cradles-to-Crayons which broadened the scope of their outreach and incorporated better distribution methods.
From the Cradles-to-Crayons website:
Approximately 197,524 children in Chicago live in low-income or homeless situations – that’s one in three children.
Without adequate and appropriate clothing, children face unfair barriers and participate in life on an unequal playing field. Across most of the United States, only three (food, housing, energy) of four basic needs are supported by government safety net programs. Cradles to Crayons uses the term “Clothing Insecurity” as part of our efforts to formally recognize the issue, and increase awareness on this hidden basic need.
This year they are aiming to provide appropriate outdoor gear as well as other essentials to more than 37,000 children in the city of Chicago. Please visit their website to learn more about how you can be part of the solution
Digs with Dignity
As a parent, most of the adults I spent time with during Ciara’s formative years were other mothers through school events and play dates. One such mother was Beth W. Beth is an absolute powerhouse of joy and efficacy. She introduced me to her team at Digs and their mission. When Oak & Bloom launched this summer, we committed to contributing to their ongoing community projects as part of our own continued growth.
From their website:
At Digs with Dignity, our mission is to elevate the lives of those transitioning from homelessness by filling their houses with everything that makes a beautiful, dignified home. As a 501(c)(3), Digs with Dignity partners with Chicago-based social service agencies to identify those in need and utilizes a warehouse of donated and refurbished furniture and home goods to outfit homes. We work with a variety of individuals and families that may include domestic abuse victims, veterans, those who have experienced a sudden job loss or those dealing with extreme health situations.
Digs with Dignity is here to support those individuals and families who may be coming from a shelter, on the street, or living doubled up with family or friends. These families may not have any furniture or the bare necessities even if they do have a space to call their own. The fact is, most of us are closer to homelessness than you may think. According to a 2019 report from Prosperity Now, millions of Americans are one missed paycheck away from poverty. The report states that 40% of American households don’t have enough money put away to make ends meet should their income be suddenly interrupted. That figure increases to 57% for households of color.
In addition to helping the Chicago community, we are committed to zero waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of furniture and furnishings taken to a landfill rose almost 30% in recent years going from 7.6 to 9.69 million tons per year, and the rate of increase is accelerating. Every piece of furniture, knick knack, linen and kitchen accessory that comes to us as a donation is either put into a home as-is, or is repaired, up-cycled, and refurbished (by our amazing in-house woodworker and “repair-anything man”) for a home. We are dedicated to reducing the amount of used furniture that ends up in landfills by repurposing it for good.
For more information on how you can contribute please visit their website: www.digswithdignity.org
For instant uplifting gratification follow them on Instagram to see the happy families impacted by this worthy company.
Marwen is a program for Middle School and High School students whose mission is to “educate and inspire Chicago’s young people from under-resourced communities and schools through free visual arts programs”.
From their website:
Through courses and workshops, students are empowered to develop artistic skills, experiment with various media, and discover new interests and ideas.
College & Career Programs
Students and families are supported through counseling, workshops, and events as they transition to college and the workforce.
Teaching and Learning Programs
Teaching artists have the opportunity to refine their teaching practice through assessment of student learning, feedback from surveys, and reflection on their practice.
In addition to the important work that they do, the output of art by students and teachers for their annual fundraising auction is spectacular and a way to build your personal art collection while supporting an important cause. We are living in extraordinary times right now but we need to continue to focus not only on surviving but also on thriving. The arts are a way for children humans to learn introspection, self-expression, and that their individual experience of the world is of value.
Please give what you can, and shop their incredible assortment of merchandise. For more information visit: https://marwen.org/