Days of Service

The 2024 Martin Luther King Day of Service on Monday, January 15th is One for the Books!
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The 2024 Martin Luther King Day of Service on Monday, January 15th is One for the Books!

The Volunteer Center is grateful to the families, community members, sports teams, church and service groups and corporate organizations that came together at our annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and Celebration on January 15th, sponsored by The Warner Institute and hosted by The Community House in Winnetka.

Working together they created dog treats, cards of support, Valentines, door hangers, toiletry kits — our always popular no-sew fleece blankets and scarves for the homeless — and more in support of local nonprofits including Grace Network, Holiday Heroes, Orphans of the Storm, CJE Senior Life and Night Ministry.

Cradles to Crayons also collected a truckload of hygiene items, diapers, wipes, pullups, school supplies, socks, underwear, clothing, shoes and books.

The Volunteer Center would like to thank our Sponsor and Site Host
for generously supporting community service and volunteerism!

Warner Institute logoThe Volunteer Center welcomes this year’s MLK Day Lead Sponsor, The Warner Institute, a leading aesthetic and reconstructive surgery practice in Northfield. In addition to innovative treatments and a satisfied client list, Dr.Jeremy Warner was honored by the Volunteer Center in 2021 for his work as the director of their mission, The Face The Future Foundation, where he and his staff donate Dr. Warner’s life changing reconstructive services to patients in Nepal and also train surgeons there pro-bono on latest practices. The Warner Institute believes in service and community engagement, a true symbiotic partner of the Volunteer Center!

The Community House in Winnetka is a VC Community Partner and gathering place for the community and seeks to inspire lifelong learning, personal growth, and community spirit through enjoyable, engaging activities and meaningful shared experiences.

Looking for a service project for your community or corporate group?

Save the Date!  Mark Your Calendar Now for Our Annual Make A Difference Day on Saturday, October 21, 2023.

Save the Date! Mark Your Calendar Now for Our Annual Make A Difference Day on Saturday, October 21, 2023.

Make a Difference Day is one of the North Shore’s favorite community days of service — and a great opportunity to clean out your closets to benefit people (and animals!) in need. All you have to do is collect gently-used and new items ranging from school supplies to sporting goods, textbooks to toiletries, coats to cookware — and more! Then just load up your car and drive through and drop off your donations to grateful nonprofits who will put them to good use serving people (and animals) who need them! We’ll even help you unload your car.

Please donate only items selected from listed below, as they are what the nonprofits really need. It is also important to bag your donations by nonprofit, labeled with the name. We hope to receive a lot of donations, so this will keep the donation line moving and allow us to sort efficiently.

Thank you for supporting Make a Difference Day and all of our nonprofits. See you there!

Make a Difference Day
Make a Difference Day
KIDS AGAINST HUNGER Celebrates Our 1 Millionth Meal!
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KIDS AGAINST HUNGER Celebrates Our 1 Millionth Meal!

80,000 Meals Collated for Earthquake Victims
in Syria and Turkey

over 300 volunteers joined together at the first in-person Kids Against Hunger in 3 years on Saturday, February 25th at the Community House in Winnetka. The Winnetka-Northfield Rotary Club, The Community House in Winnetka and the Volunteer Center once again teamed up to sponsor this popular community event that is always an inspiring opportunity for individuals, friends, families and community groups to come together and feed people in need.

This year Kids Against Hunger partnered with international rescue organization Convoy of Hope to ship a total of 100,000 meals to Turkey to feed victims of the devastating earthquake.

By the end of our event on the 25th had packed and shipped our
ONE MILLIONTH MEAL overseas to starving people in need!

To find out more about KIDS AGAINST HUNGER Click Here.

To find out more about CONVOY OF HOPE Click Here.

Questions? Contact the Volunteer Center at

Thanks to All Who Joined Us on Monday, January 16th for a Spirited Day of Service and Celebration Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Thanks to All Who Joined Us on Monday, January 16th for a Spirited Day of Service and Celebration Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We were thrilled to invite community members of all ages and abilities to the Community House in Winnetka on Monday, January 16th for our first in-person Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in 3 years! This year we offered crafts and projects to benefit 10+ local nonprofits — including our always popular no-sew fleece blankets for the homeless, and other hands-on creations for veterans, hospitalized youth, senior citizens and orphaned animals.

We were proud to support our Premiere Partner New Trier Township, who collected
personal care toiletry items (shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, toothbrush and toothpaste, etc.),
cleaning supplies (disinfectant spray cleaners, wood polish, bathroom cleaners, etc.)
and storage items (plastic bags, foil, plastic wrap, etc.) for the Food Pantry.

We also collected bags full of hats, gloves and long underwear to donate to the people of Ukraine.

The Volunteer Center and Winnetka Community House co-sponsored this year’s event along with corporate sponsors Sherry Molitor of Coldwell Banker Realty and Joe McQuillen of Chicago Financial Services. We are grateful to everyone who helped us celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mark your calendar now for next year’s MLK Day of Service, Monday, January 15, 2024!

Questions?  Email the Volunteer Center at

Volunteers of All Ages Honor Dr. Martin Luther King With Remote Service Projects
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Volunteers of All Ages Honor Dr. Martin Luther King With Remote Service Projects

Thanks to Our Amazing Volunteer Community for Supporting This Year’s Remote MLK Day of Service

The pandemic did nothing to dampen our loyal volunteers’ enthusiasm for serving those need.  Hundreds of volunteers picked up project kits, took them home to complete them, and returned them to be delivered to local nonprofits and their clients clients who needed a little winter cheer.


If You’re Looking for At-Home Volunteer Projects: Ideas and Instructions

Materials:  Most of these projects use materials you can find in your home, or are not difficult to purchase. Feel free to be creative with any supplies you have. However, please do not use any glitter in your projects – they are dangerous inhalants for those in the hospital or those with breathing issues, and a MESS to clean up.

Completed Projects: We have provided some ideas of the kind of nonprofits who would LOVE to receive your thoughtful volunteer projects.   Please feel free to choose an organization you already support, or search our database to find a nonprofit that would be happy to receive your donations.  You’ll find our searchable database on our homepage.


NO-SEW BLANKETS For the homeless


  • 4 yards of fleece — that’s it!



KINDNESS ROCKS dedicated to our very hardworking healthcare workers.


  • Smooth, flat (river rocks) – any size – best are rocks a minimum of 3”. You can buy them at craft stores or online OR if you have any paintable small rocks at home.
  • Permanent Markers, paint markers or acrylic paint and brush.

Messages should relate to healthcare workers. When you are finished, find …

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Recycle Your Goods for Good at This Year’s Make A Difference Day on Saturday, October 23rd

Now is your chance to clean out your closets to help nonprofits who serve people in need in our local community.  Make A Difference Day is one of the North Shore’s premiere days of service that is a perfect opportunity to join with your family, friends, school and community group to recycle your gently-used goods to benefit nonprofits who need them.  Please sort, bag & label your items then drop them off at the Indian Hill Train station in Winnetka (111 Green Bay Road) on Saturday, October 23rd from 9-12.  See you there!


Please Sort, Bag & Label Your Items for Each Organization Below Before You Donate

Books4Cause — Gently used books, all genres, including textbooks, CDs, DVDs and vinyl

Connections for the Homeless — Disposable NEW men’s razors, men’s coats and warm outerwear (boots, gloves, etc.), duffels, backpacks and rolling suitcases

Counseling Center of the N.S. — Women’s clothing and coats, & men’s clothing (Connections for the Homeless is collecting men’s coats)

Gears 4 Goals — Sports equipment – no golf, hockey or ski equipment

Glass Slipper Project — Jewelry and dressy purses

Hadley Institute for the Blind — Eyeglasses and cases

Infant Welfare Society — Baby diapers (any size), wipes and formula (any kind)

Junior League of  Evanston/North Shore — Casual Purses, formal dresses, warm outerwear (no men’s), household items and
      NEW travel-sized or small toiletries:

  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Lotion
  • Soap/Body Wash
  • Dental Floss
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Deodorant

Lawrence Hall  Educational games and puzzles

Madonna MissionNEW School Supplies:

  • Erasers
  • Pencil Sharpeners
  • #2 Pencils
  • Index Cards
  • Notebooks
  • Composition Books
  • Highlighters
  • Ballpoint Pens
  • Glue Sticks
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Individual Tissue Packs

Northfield Food Pantry — Non-perishable food, household cleaning supplies and paper goods

Northwestern University Settlement House — Baby, toddler and children’s clothing, coats and shoes

Orphans of the Storm — …

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More Ways for All Ages to Learn and Serve on MLK DAY

Additional Opportunities to Learn and Serve on MLK Day

Although we will not be hosting our MLK Day of Service in person this year, we would like to provide volunteers meaningful ways to honor the extraordinary legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We have some suggestions for individuals or families to engage in productive activities to help advance social justice in this unsettling year of racial strife. We are inviting volunteers to make the no-sew blankets that have been a part of our MLK Day of Service since we began in 2005. See below for project details and drop-off requirements.

Also listed on this page are additional educational and impactful service resources for people of all ages and interest levels.


No-Sew Blanket Project Details

I. Make your blanket(s) in your own home, then drop them off at the Community House either on MLK Day or the following Saturday. We will deliver them to local nonprofits that support at-risk and homeless communities.

II. Drop off your completed blanket(s) at the Community House on MLK Day, Monday, January 18th or January 23rd between 10am and 1pm only on both those days. The VC board members will be collecting the blankets at the Community House in Winnetka in the Pine Street Parking lot entrance with the large awning.

III. You may purchase your own four yards of fabric at a local fabric store, or buy one of the Volunteer Center’s limited supply of 36 blanket sets (includes four yards of fleece fabric) we have available for $20 each.

  • NOTE: If you are interested in buying one or more of our 36 blanket sets, email the Volunteer Center at for information about how to reserve your blanket sets and when and where to pick them up. The blankets are on
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Although we couldn’t all be together in person for our 17th MLK Day, we were joined in spirit.  The variety of participants in the HEROS program and our annual no-sew blanket project provided perhaps a deeper impact than usual,  as those who participated felt the spirit of community combined with a shared goal of equity.

In partnership with HEROS (Healing Everyday Racism in the Schools), The Volunteer Center invited the community to participate in HEROS’ very enligtening MLK LEGACY Workshop that focused on Dr. King’s 1965 speech in Winnetka and the concrete steps we can take locally to create Dr. King’s “Beloved Community”. Over 200 people from the township and the surrounding North Shore area participated. It was very well received and provided additional ways to be active following the event. More details on this event, and ways you can work for social justice year-round, can be found here on the HEROS website.


MLK “WEEK” No-Sew Blanket Program

As service has always been a hallmark of MLK Day, the VC also invited volunteers from the community to participate in its signature DIY fleece blanket donation program for homeless shelters and refugees. Instead of working side by side, families made their blankets independently for MLK “Week”.  This year’s MLK Day remote DIY blanket program will provide over 50 blankets to Connections for the Homeless, The Night Ministry and Refugee One — with a special shout out to North Shore Country Day School for involving their parents. 

We were also touched to receive a blanket from the Chiaravalle Montesorri School in Evanston’s Pan African and Caribbean Affinity group (P.A.C.). by 1st and 2nd grade class members. The P.A.C. is a group dedicated to listening, highlighting, and empowering black and brown voices within our rich and growing community.