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:

Lawrence Hall  Educational games and puzzles

Madonna MissionNEW School Supplies:

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 — Any pet supplies & toys, food, twin size & small blankets, gently used towels

Support for Developing Country Social EnterprisesGently used adult sized athletic shoes (no holes, tears)

Working Bikes — All bikes (adults and youth) in repairable condition


For more information:


September 20, 2021

Take action today to help victims of crisis in Afghanistan. Here are some ways you can help you can help.

The crisis in Afghanistan has humanitarian implications across the globe, including right here in Chicago.  VC partners Madonna Mission, Refugee One and World Relief are springing into action to help refugees fleeing the danger in Afghanistan settle into new homes and build into new lives as we welcome them to our community.  They need help.

VOLUNTEER – Support refugee neighbors in Chicago by volunteering as a mentor for 2 educational programs:

DONATE – Make an immediate difference today through in-kind donations of basic teaching tools, or financial support.  Donate here.

To learn more about Madonna Mission, click here.


VOLUNTEER – With new arrivals, we will need all hands on deck and are especially in need of volunteers, with flexible schedules, to help with the arrival process. Volunteers help us with critical needs like setting up apartments and welcoming families at the airport. Apply to volunteer here.

LOCATE HOUSING – Not only will we be in need of volunteers, but we will also be in need of housing opportunities for those coming to the Chicagoland area. If you, or anyone you know, has access to rental property that is available at an affordable rate, contact Robin Johnson at

DONATE – Make a one-time or recurring gift to help families fleeing violence and persecution. Your gift helps cover the immediate basics like food, housing, transportation, and also supports families to begin to rebuild their lives here in Chicagoland. Donate here.

To learn more about World Relief, click here.


VOLUNTEER TO BE A MENTOR OR TUTOR – As families arrive, they’ll need volunteers to support them! See more here about becoming a volunteer mentor or tutor for refugee adults or youth.  Find out about being a volunteer mentor or tutor here.

ORGANIZE A CO-SPONSOR TEAM – Interested in organizing a co-sponsor team to help welcome a newly arriving refugee family by raising funds, setting up an apartment, and walking alongside them as they adjust? Join the live co-sponsor info session on September 29 or 30. Find out more and sign up here.

DONATE –  Help provide housing assistance, English classes, employment coaching, academic support, mental health services, and more. Donate here.

To find out more about Refugee One, click here.



August 24, 2021

Looking to Volunteer this Summer? We Can Help!

Summer is a great time to volunteer at a local nonprofit.
Let us help you help others!

Have a particular cause you would like to support? Not sure what you would like to do? Simply visit our listing of 165 nonprofits to check out their missions and volunteer needs.   When you see something that might be of interest, you can send a message directly to the nonprofit letting them know you’re interested and available.  It’s that easy!

Click here to visit our VC Nonprofit Page and start your search!


Questions?  Contact the Volunteer Center at
July 22, 2021

Volunteers Needed for Community-Wide Document Shredding Event Saturday, November 13th



The Volunteer Center and New Trier Township are sponsoring a free community-wide Document Shredding and Disposal Event  — and we need volunteers!

WHEN:    Saturday, November 13th from 8:30am-11:30am

WHERE: In the parking lot of Regina Dominican High School, at 701 Locust Road in Wilmette.


This safe, contactless, drive-through event is a great opportunity to protect your financial privacy and prevent identity theft by destroying financial and other private documents before you dispose of them.

We are looking for volunteers to help unload documents from donor’s cars and loading them into the shredding truck, and to help with cleanup.

To volunteer, or for more information, email Barb Tubekis at


April 29, 2021

Celebrate Earth Day 2021 with The Volunteer Center and our Partner James Martin Associates Saturday April 24th

Get down and dirty and help “Restore our Earth”!

The Volunteer Center and James Martin Associates
Host A Special Opportunity to Honor 
Earth Day

 Saturday, April 24th, from 9:30-11:30 am

Individuals and families are invited to participate in this year’s National Earth day theme, “Restore Our Earth” by removing invasive plants and other projects that will help restore native habitat for birds and pollinators in Harbert-Payne Woods in Evanston on the North Shore Channel.

Registration is required, as the project is limited to 30 people, ages 5 through adult 

In order to accommodate safe distancing — and to facilitate small group led projects by the Woods’ lead volunteers — registration is limited.  Please do not delay your reservations!  To Reserve space(s),  email Barb Tubekis at  Once we have your registration we will provide you the exact park location to meet us the morning of the 24th. We will also email you a waiver to sign and bring with you from the City of Evanston as protocal. There will be some supplies available, but volunteers are encouraged to bring shovels or hand trowels, work gloves, water bottles and sun protection and Masks are required. There are no fees required, but donations are welcome for the Channel Habitat Fund to purchase more plants to support the restoration work at Herbert-Payne Park and the Ladd Arboretum.

More info About the Project and Harbert-Payne Woods  

Allison Sloan, a steward of the Channel will provide information about the project and its importance of these three acres of cottonwood forest along the east bank of the North Shore Channel. Over time, the woods have become overgrown with invasive buckthorn bushes and strewn with dead ash trees killed by the invasive emerald ash borer beetle. Community members have come together to replace the invasives with native shrubs and wildflowers to provide food and cover for native songbirds, and to plant a forest of native food-producing plants for humans to educate future generations about the critical role of wild foods in our ancestors’ survival. After all, wild onions are the namesake for “Checagou” by Native Americans.

About James Martin Associates Landscaping 

Project sponsor and Volunteer Center partner James Martin Associates has been designing and managing practical, creative and award-winning landscapes in the Chicagoland region since 1977. They are a nationally recognized, employee-owned landscaping firm as well as a steward of our environment. Through the use of recycled materials created at their facility and an emphasis on green and lean strategies, they do their part to help maintain the environment for their clients.

About the Volunteer Center 

Established in 1960, The Volunteer Center (VC) works with over 165 nonprofit partner organizations to help individuals, families, and service groups find ways to volunteer their time and help others in the community. We also help groups develop and implement effective service-learning programs in schools, faith-based organizations and civic groups, and sponsor community Days of Service.



April 15, 2021

It May Have Been Virtual, But This Year’s Annual Celebration of Our Super Hero Volunteers Was As Inspiring As Always!


For complete bios of this year’s Super Hero honorees  visit our official event website,


Watch Our Event Recap Here!

Make a Donation in Honor of YOUR Super Hero Volunteer Here

Donate Form

For more information about the Volunteer Center, e-mail Barb Tubekis at

February 17, 2021

Test for Recognition Event

2021 Super Heroes Registration, Raffle Tickets or Donations

To REGISTER, PURCHASE RAFFLE TICKETS OR DONATE TO the 2021 Virtual Volunteer Center Super Heroes Recognition Event tonight, please provide the following information and complete the payment process below. Watch your email for your personal link to the event. Relax, you won't be visible to the other attendees!
  • Price: $50.00 Quantity:
  • Price: $75.00 Quantity:
February 16, 2021

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.

IV. Blanket Instructions

Additional MLK Day Educational and Service Resources

People across the United States may choose to make an immediate impact with hands-on traditional service projects that support the homeless and other poverty stricken communities, but there are other ways to honor Dr. King’s legacy of furthering equality and civil rights in a direct, educational way that helps us understand and support racial justice. This is an opportunity to honor the legacy of Dr. King, and continue his mission to empower and strengthen local communities.

*Please participate in the HEROS – Healing Everyday Racism in our Schools Virtual Workshop, Jan 17th, 2-4pm:In partnership with HEROS, the Volunteer Center is proud to invite N.E. Metro Community Members to register for this Virtual Workshop on Sunday, January 17th from 2-4pm. Educational and productive online workshop that features five breakout Session appropriate for adults, parents and teens to learn how we can become The Beloved Community. Additional information and Registration here.

A note about volunteerism in honor of Dr. MLK, Jr.: Dr. Bernice King (Daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King and Director of The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia): ”And so in terms of volunteerism, this is a marathon that we’re talking about when you are committing to eradicating, dismantling racism. It’s not a sprint. It’s not a singular act. It’s continual struggle, it’s continual work, it’s continual education, it’s continual stretching, it’s continually getting out of your comfort zone, it’s continually being willing to share power. It’s continual sacrifice.”

The United Way of Illinois Launches ’21 Week Equity Challenge. Participate!

From Martin Luther King Jr. Day (1/18) to Juneteenth (6/19), participants will complete weekly learning assignments about equity, racism, bias and more. The 15-minute assignments include readings, videos, and questions for participants to consider. Upon completion, they’ll receive a digital certificate and tips and tools to help continue the conversation in their local community. Information and registration here.

This MLK Day on Monday, January 18th, the organization 9/11 Day encourages you to honor the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by taking a moment to visit and performing one of the good deeds we’ve curated in observance of the 26th annual MLK Day of Service. As a federally recognized day of service, we at 9/11 Day are proud to support MLK Day. Our website features more than 50 activities you can consider for MLK Day or any other day of the year. Most of our online service ideas are 100% free for you to perform and can all be completed quickly and safely from your own home computer or mobile device.

Please take a moment now to visit to learn more. Also consider visiting the official federal website for MLK Day as well.

Join an MLK Day On-line Observance, The Beloved Community Global Summit on January 14th and 15th

Sponsored by The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia. This is an opportunity for mission aligned individual organizations who are dedicated to creating the Beloved Community to come together and share ideas. Participants will hear from a myriad of national and international individuals who share their vision for a more just, humane, equitable and peaceful world.

From the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS – Americorps)

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – Historical timeline of the Day, Traditions, MLK Day Stats, and How to Observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Support the Efforts of The Lawndale Christian Legal Center (LCLC) – An Important Restorative Justice Organization

Lawndale Christian Legal Center: “We can put just justice back in the criminal justice system. We’ve already begun in North Lawndale, one of the most segregated, under-resourced and heavily policed neighborhoods in Chicago.” LCLC is working to break the arrest/incarcerate/release/repeat cycle that continues to threaten young lives and decimate the North Lawndale community. They negotiate peace within the community and help emerging adults find a more constructive solution to repair harm than incarceration. This is a valuable opportunity for those who work within the criminal justice system. Join their efforts –


Your children are for the most part not too young to learn to understand ways to embrace people of all colors, abilities and cultures. Understanding the history of racism and how far we still need to go to create Dr. King’s “Beloved Community” in this country is an essential part of volunteer participation.

YOUTH SERVICE AMERICA -YSA– Youth Changing the World

Resource for Youth of all ages like how to plan and implement and Anti-Racist Service Project, toolkits for Youth changing the World, Kits

YSA Book/Reading Lists for Youth


Embrace Race- 20 Picture Books for 2020: Readings to Embrace Race, Provide Solace & Do Good

10 Children’s Books About Racism And Activism To Help Parents Educate Their Kids



• Do the necessary work: Before you can take actions against racism, it’s important that you do the necessary work.  You need to not only do the research to understand the issues, but need to do some self-reflection about your views on racism as well.      

• Power in the people: The real solutions come from the power of the people. You need to first listen to understand the issues and then have the right people at the table.  

• Move from being safe to brave: Safe won’t solve the problems that we’re in, so we have to be brave to speak truth to power.  We have to challenge thoughts and know that in doing so we may make people uncomfortable.  

• We created these systems of inequity: When it comes to systemic racism, it’s important to remember these systems were created by people.  We are all a part of a system, and to dismantle racism we need to make individual commitments to not be silent in these environments. 

• We have the power to create change: We as individuals collectively have the power to change what we’re calling, systemic racism by starting with ourselves and making a commitment in the environments where we find ourselves. We need to ensure we are identifying and exposing systems of racism, while offering suggestions on how we build a new table with everyone at the table represented. 



IBRAM X. KENDI is a New York Times bestselling author and the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. A professor of history and international relations and a frequent public speaker, Kendi is a columnist at The Atlantic. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves.


The following questions were provided to enlist thought provoking discussion opportunities to understand Anti-Racism.

  1. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi shares his own experience with racist thinking. How does his honesty help give us space to acknowledge and name our own racist behaviors and attitudes?
  2. Kendi writes, “The only way to undo racism is to constantly identify it and describe it—and then dismantle it.” Why does he believe we need to call out racism when we see it, even if it can be uncomfortable to identify?
  3. The book’s central message is that the opposite of “racist” isn’t “not racist.” The true opposite
    of “racist” is antiracist. “The good news,” Kendi writes, “is that racist and antiracist are not xed identities. We can be racist one minute and an antiracist the next.” What does it mean to have to constantly rea rm your identity as an antiracist? Is there any benefit to the fact that you can’t just decide you are “not racist” or an antiracist and be done with it?
  4. What is the first step you, personally, will take in striving to be an antiracist? How will you check yourself and hold yourself accountable if you notice you, or someone else, is being racist?
  5. Kendi thinks that we should assess candidates as being racist or antiracist based on what ideas they are expressing and what policies they are supporting—and not what they say is in their bones or their heart. Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
  6. Anyone who values immigrants from European countries and devalues immigrants from Latin America is guilty of racism. Have you ever been guilty of this type of racism? Discuss the unique resilience and resourcefulness people possess if they leave everything in their native country behind and immigrate to another, as Kendi examines in the chapter on Ethnicity.
  7. There’s a stronger and clearer correlation between levels of violent crime and unemployment levels than between violent crime and race, but that’s not the story policymakers have chosen to tell. Discuss why you think this is. How might our society and culture change if policymakers characterized dangerous Black neighborhoods as dangerous unemployed neighborhoods?
  8. Why do you think it is so hard for people to not assess other cultures from their own cultural standards? How does doing this trap people in racist ideas?
  9. Inequities between Light and Dark African Americans can be as wide as inequities between Black and White Americans. How have you seen colorism play out in real life and/or in the media?
  • Kendi writes, “White supremacist is code for anti-human, a nuclear ideology that poses an existential threat to human existence.” How are white supremacists and their ideology actually harmful to all of humanity—including white people?
  • Kendi makes the case that to be antiracist, one must stand against all forms of bigotry. Why is standing against other bigotries so essential to standing against racism?
  • Kendi closes the book comparing racism and cancer. What do you think of this comparison?
  • Kendi believes we can defy the odds, heal society of racism, and create an antiracist society. Do you? Why is hope so central to the antiracist movement?



January 11, 2021


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.


Thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s remote MLK activities.  Looking forward to seeing you all — in person — next year!

January 8, 2021

Happy Holidays — and Happy Volunteering — from The Volunteer Center

We’ll post holiday volunteer opportunities as we receive them, so check back regularly.  In the meantime, you can also peruse our listing of nonprofits and contact them directly
to see if they need volunteers.


Holiday Baking Volunteers Needed

Do you enjoy baking, singing holiday songs and spreading cheer? We are looking for volunteers to sign up to support Lambs Farm Bakery & Country Store during our busy holiday season. We need help at the Bakery making delicious treats which helps provide income and meaningful employment for the farm’s residents that includes people of all abilities. Tasks that you may help with are: baking, packing, chocolate-making, labeling, cookies, bread, truffles, dog biscuits, muffins, granola, jams…it is our busy time of year so anything goes!

When:  November through December, Monday – Saturday

Where:   Lambs Farm Bakery and Country Store production areas

Available Shifts:  9:00 am – 12 Noon, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Contact:  Angela Ramert, email


Holiday Gift Program and Food Pantry Donations Needed

The New Trier township is collecting donations for their Holiday gift Program and the Food Pantry.

For details visit their website here.


December 15, 2020
Donate to VC

Help Us Help You Help Others

Donations to The Volunteer Center are tax-deductible.

DonateBecome a Community/Corporate Sponsor