Christmas in July: Holiday Giving with Kids

This is the Post #1 of 5 in the Christmas in July series.

I wrote a Holiday Giving (with Kids) post last year, but unfortunately I didn’t get it on here until late November. I’m happy to have this up earlier this year. A lot of the suggestions and information is the same, but I did my best to update everything for this year and I added a few organizations. I hope to continue adding to the list of charities so if you know of one that should be included please email me at

It’s hard coming up with extra money, especially around the holidays, but here are a few suggestions on how to come up with a little extra:

  • Collect change. If you want to collect even faster, pay with cash more often and don’t pay with exact change, or just toss a couple singles in the jar when you can.
  • Have a garage sale or sell items on Craigslist or eBay.
  • Sign up for and get promo codes and earn cash back on things you order at over 1,200 online stores (including Groupon, Old Navy, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, & Target). Cash back is distributed quarterly in the form of a check or Paypal credit so it’s easy to keep this earmarked for donations.
  • When you’re shopping online and need to spend just a little more to get free shipping buy an extra toy or clothing item for someone in need.
  • Clip coupons and use the money saved to donate.
  • Buy extra items when you find a really good deal; donate the ones you don’t need.
  • Shop online through, or A percentage of sales are donated and you choose which charity or organization receives it.
  • Collect samples, freebies, and travel size toiletries and similar items to donate to shelters or to give to the homeless.
  • Donate toys, clothing, or household items. Some places you can donate to:  The Salvation Army,Goodwill Industries, and Amvets.
  • Buy small items from the Target dollar section or dollar or discount stores.

Ways to include kids:

  • Talk to them about giving; depending on their age maybe they can even help choose a cause
  • Have them help choose toys or clothing they no longer need or use to donate
  • Shop with them for items to donate
  • Create Blessing Bags (idea from with your kids; keep them in the car to give to the homeless.
  • Plan a Milk + Bookies party, birthday party, or playdate with your kids
  • Make a simple blanket (try a no-sew fleece blanket)
  • Have them help collect pop tabs for Ronald McDonald House
  • Attend Creatively Caring events with your kids
Here are some charities you can support. Some are local and some are national. I posted just basic information and all these organizations are working very hard to help so click the link to learn more. Because it’s early in the year a lot of holiday-specific organizations are not updated for 2012 yet, but you can start collecting money and donations now!

Animal Welfare League

  • Purpose: Provide homes and care to unwanted, homeless, and abused animals; reduce pet overpopulation through low cost spay and neuter services; and provide veterinary care for low income pet owners
  • Location: 6224 S. Wabash, Chicago, and 10305 Southwest Highway, Chicago Ridge
  • Deadline: None
  • Requested donation: Money or items from their wish list
  • Purpose: Connect supportive civilians with deployed troops and offer a channel to communicate encouragement and express gratitude
  • Location: Nationwide; located in Colorado
  • Deadline: None
  • Requested donation: Adopt a soldier to send letters, cards, and care packages to (long-term, short-term, or one-time commitment) or donate money

  • Purpose: Supporting Soldiers who are in harm’s way
  • Location: Donations can be mailed from anywhere
  • Deadline: None
  • Requested donation: Care packages, letters, Beanie Babies, jerky, computers, tactical items

Barrington Giving Day

  • Purpose: Provide goods to individuals and families of Barrington schools, Barrington Township, and Cuba Township
  • Location: Barrington churches and schools and businesses
  • Deadline: November 15 – December 8 (These are the same dates listed for last year so I’m not sure if they are correct for 2012 or not)
  • Requested donation: Money, coats, new or like-new toys and gifts, books for children and teens

  • Purpose: Recruit new volunteers for the USPS Operation Letters to Santa program, which provides gifts for children in need
  • Location: A directory of participating USPS locations is available after in December. There are also suggestions on other ways to be an elf if there is not a participating location near you.
  • Deadline: Check back in December for details about your participating location.
  • Requested donation: A gift or gifts for a child in need

Christmas Without Cancer – christmaswithoutcancer [at] yahoo [com]

  • Purpose: Help provide basic necessities, such as gift cards for groceries and gas, to families stricken by cancer
  • Location: Oak Lawn, IL
  • Deadline: None
  • Requested donation: Money, gift cards
  • Purpose: Provide opportunities for families to get involved in hands-on community services projects that help people, animals, and the environment
  • Location: Techny, IL
  • Deadline: None. There are ongoing events.
  • Requested donation: Attend events

Greater Chicago Food Depository

  • Purpose: Distribute donated and purchased food to food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters throughout Cook County
  • Location: Chicago. Food collection locations can be viewed online.
  • Deadline: None
  • Requested donation: Money, food

Holiday Mail for Heroes

  • Purpose: To distribute holiday cards to America service members, veterans, and families throughout the United States and overseas
  • Location: Donations can be mailed from anywhere
  • Deadline: Information for 2012 campaign is not yet posted
  • Requested donation: A holiday greeting card with your message

Loaves & Fishes

  • Purpose: Provide food and groceries to struggling families in DuPage County
  • Location: Naperville, IL
  • Deadline: None
  • Requested donation: Money, food

The Mark Staehely Treasure Chest Program & The Mark Staehely Family Assistance Program

  • Purpose: The Treasure Chest Program provides toys to child in the hospital. The Family Assistance Program provides families of pediatric cancer patients with things like gas cards and food cards to help with the daily expense that can be difficult to manage when a child is facing a life-threatening illness.
  • Location: Treasure Chests are at the Children’s Memorial Hospital Oncology/Hematology Department, Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Radiology/Oncology Department, and Proven St. Joseph Medical Center’s pediatric floor. Donations can be made online and events take place in the Chicagoland area.
  • Deadline: None
  • Requested donation: Money or attend an event (2012 events include Shorewood Scoot in September and the 6th Annual Make Your Mark Golf Outing in September)

Milk + Bookies

  • Purpose: Expose kids to giving and provide books to children who don’t have access to them
  • Location: Anywhere you choose
  • Deadline: None
  • Requested donation: Host a Milk + Bookies event to collect books to donate

Murph’s Gift of Music

  • Purpose: Provide music related lessons and instruments to children from families who do not have the means to provide them
  • Location: Chicago
  • Deadline: None
  • Requested donation: Money, musical instruments
  • Purpose: Raise money for the family a Mary Cate, a child born with Apert Syndrome, a craniofacial condition causes issues in the development of the brain and skull, hands, and feet, requiring many surgeries.
  • Location: Chicago
  • Deadline: None
  • Requested donation: Money (donate through site, or purchase “Team MC” hairbows at Belle Up (  and they will donate 50% of the net sales to Mary Cate’s special needs trust.)

Operation Christmas Child

  • Purpose: Provide gifts to needy children overseas
  • Location: Boone, NC
  • Deadline: National collection week is November 12-19 this year; shoeboxes are accepted year-round if you ship them to their headquarters in Boone, NC.
  • Requested donation: A shoebox full of gifts for a child and $7 to cover shipping for each box (check out Making Time For Mommy for some great ideas on what to include in your shoebox!)

Pajama Program

  • Purpose: Deliver warm pajamas and a books to children in need
  • Location: Chapters located throughout the country
  • Deadline: None
  • Requested donation: Money, pajamas & books (can be purchased online for donation or you can host a pajama drive, or donate at the local chapter in Gurnee)

Partners in Health

  • Purpose: Provide comprehensive health care to impoverished communities internationally
  • Location: Headquarters in Boston; provide services in 12 countries, including the United States
  • Deadline: None
  • Requested donation: Money

Project Linus

  • Purpose: Provide blankets for children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need
  • Location: Chapters are located throughout the country, and there are several chapters in Illinois.
  • Deadline: None
  • Requested donation: Homemade blankets

Ronald McDonald House Children’s Charities

  • Purpose: Provide a “home-away-from-home” for families so they can stay close to a hospitalized child at little or no cost
  • Location: There are six locations in Illinois
  • Deadline: No
  • Requested donation: Money, pop tabs, household goods, non-perishable food, new toys and games. Individual houses have wishlists of needed items. Small groups can volunteer to cook a meal for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House

Salvation Army & NBC 5 Coat Drive

  • Purpose: Collect coats for the needy
  • Location: NBC Studios, 401 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago
  • Date: Annual event; date will be announced later this year
  • Requested donation: New or gently used winter coats

Salvation Army & Bears Coat Drive

Salvation Army Angel Tree Program

  • Purpose: Provide gifts for needy children
  • Location: Salvation Army locations
  • Deadline: Annual event; dates will be announced later this year
  • Requested donation: an unwrapped gift for a child

Settler’s Pond Hoofed Animals (& others) Shelter

  • Purpose: Rescue hoofed (& other) animals; provide care for them while educating the next generation
  • Location: Beecher, IL
  • Deadline: None
  • Requested donations: Money, dog and cat food, fencing, or items from their current needs list
  • Purpose: Provide celebratory events for children with disabilities and their families in environments designed to accommodate their special needs.
  • Location: Elmhurst, IL
  • Deadline: None
  • Requested donations: Money

Toys for Tots

  • Purpose: Provide toys to children in need
  • Location: Locations throughout the Chicagoland area
  • Deadline: Ongoing collection; Toys for Tots parade is on Sunday, December 2
  • Requested donation: Money; new, unopened, and unwrapped toys (no stuffed animals, food, toy weapons, no pets)

Wounded Warrior Project (see my previous post about the Wounded Warrior Project)

  • Purpose: Provide assistance to injured service members
  • Location: Anywhere
  • Deadline: None
  • Requested donation: Money
  • Purpose: Connect people with excess goods to local charities in need
  • Location: Chicago, North and Northwest suburbs
  • Deadline: None
  • Requested donations: Appliances, baby/kids items, books/periodicals, cameras, cleaning supplies, clothing, computers, electronics, food, furniture, health care items, household items, musical instruments, office supplies, sports equipment, tools, toys, more.

How do you involve your children in giving? Do you know of any organizations that should be added to the list? I’d love to hear about them!

See the other Christmas in July posts:


  1. Thank you for including the Jared Box on your web site. I am the director of the Jared Box. We are a non profit organization run by a handful of volunteers. I really appreciate your help in spreading the word about this great little project.
    Cindy Kolarik
    Director, The Jared Box Project
    If you like, it would be great if you liked us on Facebook!

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