Where to donate your money, gifts and time in Evanston this holiday season


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

The Christmas tree in Downtown Evanston in 2019. Evanston residents and businesses are reimagining holiday celebrations this year as beloved traditions move virtual.

Amy Li, Campus Editor

The holiday season doesn’t look the same for everyone in the Evanston community. In the season of giving, here are some ways to help this winter.

Help survivors of domestic violence at YWCA Evanston/Northshore’s Women’s Emergency Shelter

For women and children who have survived domestic violence, there are opportunities to donate money, toys and time to the YWCA Evanston/Northshore Domestic Violence Program.

The program provides emergency and longer-term housing to women and children fleeing from violence. Verda Bhatti, the program’s volunteer coordinator, said this winter, there is a toy drive to help mothers and their children celebrate the holidays.

“We try to serve them around the year, but the holiday time is when things can get really difficult for women who are not in their homes and children who don’t have a lot of family around,” Bhatti said.

The shelter is looking for volunteers to help organize the toy drive and wrapping presents.

In addition to toys, other in-kind donations keep expenses down so the shelter can focus on essential programming. Gift cards and cash donations in any amount are also welcome.

If your New Year’s resolutions involve donating more to charity, you can also set up recurring donations of any amount with YWCA Evanston/Northshore.

The emergency shelter can accommodate up to 30 people, but Bhatti said the program is in the process of doubling its capacity within three years.

“This is the time to keep in mind of all the survivors of domestic violence and how challenging it is for them,” Bhatti said. “Please give generously and from your heart.”

Learn more here.

Make the holidays happier by giving to Mayor Steve Hagerty’s Holiday Food, Book, and Toy Drive

Help other families make the most of the holiday season by donating new, unwrapped toys, books and non-perishable food items to Mayor Steve Hagerty’s Holiday Food, Book and Toy Drive. All financial donations will also be received by the Evanston Parks Foundation to purchase food and toys in bulk.

The Evanston city website lists 15 locations where these items can be dropped off. Multiple Evanston businesses are offering 20 percent discounts on items purchased at their stories to be donated to the drive.

The drive spans Nov. 4 to Dec. 13. There is no time more generous than the holidays, and leverage that warm fuzzy feeling into building a warmer winter for members in the Evanston community.

Learn more here.

Fight homelessness by lending a helping hand to Interfaith Action of Evanston

Chicago winters regularly dip into sub-zero temperatures. To help the homeless through the cold, from mid-November to late March, Interfaith Action of Evanston opens an overnight shelter from 9 p.m.to 7 a.m. that provides warm drinks and a safe place to sleep.

The shelter will also be open every night for two weeks around the Christmas holidays, regardless of temperature.

The shelter provided for 2,651 guests between January and March of 2019 and hopes to be open every night this winter.

Sue Murphy, the executive director of Interfaith Action Evanston, said the center relies on volunteers to staff these shelters and encourages anyone to reach out.

“Nobody should have to sleep outside ever but certainly not in the winter,” Murphy said. “We are really excited to be able to be open all of next winter.”

Learn more here.

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