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Chicago Mutual Aid Groups And Nonprofits Where You Can Give — Or Receive — Help Over The Holidays

CHICAGO — The city is teeming with nonprofits, mutual aid groups and organizations that have made it their mission to give back to people in need in and around the city.

We’ve rounded up 40 neighborhood initiatives across Chicago that have provided food, protective equipment, money and other support to people in need.

This list is not exhaustive — there are so many resources and networks meeting neighbors’ needs, it doesn’t even highlight all the efforts we’ve covered with Block Club.

If you know of any other initiatives not previously covered in Block Club or would like to share updates on efforts we have written about, email us at

Options for receiving or providing help:

Above and Beyond is an outpatient addiction treatment facility that relies on private funding to ensure no one is turned away when in need. The West Side-based facility has created a pantry for neighbors in need. You can make a monetary donationWebsite.

A Home Within, which has a Chicago chapter, supports children who are in or who have gone through foster care by matching them with therapists who can provide mental health care. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donationWebsite.

The American Indian Center works to preserve Native American culture and help Indigenous people in Chicago and neighbors. It has a year-round educational program for youth and has provides services like free food to neighbors in need. You can make a monetary donationWebsite.

Asian Youth Services was founded to assist refugee families fleeing from genocide, war and oppression in Southeast Asia. It provides tutoring services and mentoring relationships to youth in Albany Park. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donationWebsite.

Avondale Mutual Aid provides various services, including getting items to people in need with infants and people experiencing homelessness. You can volunteer or make donations. The group shares updates on InstagramWebsite.

Bernie’s Book Bank provides free, quality book to under-served children in and around Chicago. Every child who participates gets a free bag of books every year. The organization has given away more than 20 million books so far. You can donate new and gently used books at more than 120 locations. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donationWebsite.

Brave Space Alliance is a Black- and trans-led LGBTQ center that is based in Hyde Park but works with neighbors throughout Chicago. It runs a community pantry for people in need, offers monetary assistance to trans people of color and created a makeup room where eligible people can pick up makeup for free, among other services. You can volunteer. You can donate items or money. Website.

La Casa Norte helps young people and families who are experiencing homelessness, providing them stable housing and services. You can make a monetary donation. Here are other ways to give. Website.

Credit: Provided
A Chicago Abortion Fund volunteer-organized bake sale in August raised nearly $2,500.

The Chicago Abortion Fund provides support, including funds for care and travel, to people in need of abortion and reproductive health care. You can make a monetary donation. Website.

Chicago Cares works to help Chicagoans find volunteer opportunities so they can connect with neighbors and become more involved in their communities in the hopes of ultimately building a more equitable city. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donate. Website.

Chicago Community Jail Support is a mutual aid project run by volunteers to help people being released from Cook County Jail and their loved ones. The group provides people with clothing, phone calls, snacks, safe transportation home, emergency housing and other goods and services. You can make donations of items or money. You can volunteer in person or from homeHere are more options for giving. Website.

Chicago Hopes For Kids provides educational support for kids living in Chicago shelters. It has after-school and summer programs, among other opportunities, and kids get help with homework and reading. You can volunteer. You can donateWebsite.

Chicago Roo Crew is a grassroots group that rescues and finds permanent homes for homeless roosters and hens in and around Chicago. You can make a monetary donation to the group to help it pay for chickens’ veterinary bills. Website.

Credit: Maia McDonald/Block Club Chicago
A rooster name Fuego from Chicago Roo Crew.

The Chinese Mutual Aid Association provides a variety of services — including adult education, citizen and immigration help and youth programs — to low-income immigrants and refugees. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donationWebsite.

CommunityHealth provides services to low-income, uninsured Chicagoans, with translators for people in need. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donation. Website.

Cook County Health Foundation works to support Cook County Health so all people — including those without insurance — can receive health care. Here are ways to can help. You can make a monetary donation. Website.

Edgewater COVID-19 Mutual Aid Network is a grassroots group that provides resources to neighbors in need on the Far North Side. You can request or offer mutual aid resourcesWebsite.

Erie Neighborhood House provides mental health care, adult education and other services to low-income and immigrant families. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donation. Website.

Credit: Alejandro Reyes
Andy Robledo is replacing piles of blankets and keeping people warm, “one tent at a time.”

Feeding People Through Plants works to provide meals and other supplies, including tents, to people experiencing homelessness. You can volunteer or donate. Website.

The Friendship Center works to provide food access and other resources to neighbors in need on the Northwest Side. It provides hot meals, groceries, pet supplies and more. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donation and donate supplies. Website.

Grace Housing Complex is an economic and community development organization that provides low-income families with healthy food, support services, development opportunities and affordable housing in the Chicagoland area. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donationWebsite.

The Greater Chicago Food Depository provides food to people in need and has supplied pop-up food pantries on the South and West sides throughout the pandemic, from South Shore to Bronzeville to Little VillageYou can volunteer. You can make a monetary donationWebsite.

Gyrls in the H.O.O.D. Foundation provides Chicagoland girls with a variety of services, including providing reproductive and sexual health education so they can make informed decisions. You can read about how it created a shelter for young women here. You can make a monetary donationWebsite.

Healthy Hood works to end the life expectancy gap between under-served and high-income communities by providing residents in need with resources and programs that will cultivate their minds, bodies and consciences. You can make a monetary donationWebsite.

The Irving Park Community Food Pantry collects and distributes food, toys, winter gear and other resources for families in need. You can make a monetary donation. You can volunteerWebsite.

The Kenwood Oakland Community Organization supports low-income and working families and works to develop leaders to build up communities and improve quality of life for residents. You can make a monetary donation. Website.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Erica Avant, Ismael Vargas, Tanka Bradford, Casey Holtschneider and Carl Wiley pose for a portrait at LYTE Lounge, 549 E. 76th St. in Greater Grand Crossing on July 6, 2022.

The Lyte Collective recently opened a $1.8 million community center to provide a safe space to youth experiencing homelessness. It provides them with meals, laundry facilities, safe item storage and more. Here are ways to help. You can make a monetary donation. Website.

Love Fridge is a mutual aid group that helps neighbors create free fridges and pantries in Chicago neighborhoods. People can leave food donations at the fridges and people in need can stop by to get supplies. You can volunteer. You can host a fridgeWebsite.

Market Box is a mutual aid program to benefit neighbors who need healthy food and Midwest farmers. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donation. Website.

The Middle Eastern Immigrant and Refugee Alliance supports refugees coming to the Chicago area while ensuring it preserves and exchanges Middle Eastern culture. It helps refugees and immigrants access services like health care and public benefits. You can make a monetary donationWebsite.

Molasses is a collective of Black transgender artists supporting fellow Black trans people. Members and donors contribute to services like direct monetary aid and self-defense classes. You can read our story about the collective’s efforts here. You can make a monetary donationWebsite.

The Network is a group dedicated to improving the lives of people impacted by domestic violence through education, public policy and advocacy. The organization created a Crisis Response Fund that directly gives cash assistance to survivors of gender-based violence. Here’s how you can donate or otherwise support its workWebsite.

Not Me We is a South Shore-based community group that is fighting for housing protections in South Shore and Woodlawn and provides mutual aid to neighbors in need. It gives away supplies through its regular Feed the Babies events, among other distributions. DM on Instagram to ask about donation opportunities. Website.

Credit: Alyssa Schukar for Nourishing Hope
A client picks up food items at Nourishing Hope’s pantry.

Nourishing Hope, previously known as the Lakeview Pantry, was founded by Jo Bolger decades ago to combat inequity in the neighborhood. It has seen record-breaking requests for food assistance during the pandemic. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donationWebsite.

One Tail at a Time is an animal shelter that helps dogs, cats and rabbits find permanent homes and provides medical care to homeless animals. It also runs a pet mutual aid network so owners in need can get supplies for furry family members. You can volunteer. You can provide a temporary home to an animal by fostering. You can make a monetary donationWebsite.

People United Albany Park is a community-led effort that provides neighbors in need with food and other resources. You can make a monetary donation. Website.

Pilsen Social Health Initiative provides a variety of resources — a food pantry, a free library, mutual aid and more — to fight poverty and help neighbors. You can read about its work hereYou can donateWebsite.

Red Door Shelter is a no-kill shelter that helps foster and adopt out cats, dogs, rabbits and, occasionally, a stray duck or chicken. You can provide a temporary home to an animal by fostering. You can donate supplies or moneyWebsite.

The Resident Association of Greater Englewood, known as R.A.G.E., provides a multitude of services around Englewood, promoting businessescreating neighborhood murals and exploring new ways of empowering residents. It works to promote relationships among neighbors and address community problems. You can become a member of R.A.G.E. or make a monetary donationWebsite.

The Southwest Collective is a coalition of groups based on the Southwest Side that are trying to build community while tackling issues related to development, crime and placemaking. It provides supplies to families in need during events. You can volunteer and donate items or moneyWebsite.

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