I’m surely not the first person who’s ever pointed out that in this town, goodwill runs deep.
Whether it’s volunteering time, sharing experiences or opening wallets, Naperville is known to be a giving community. And that’s a fine reputation to foster.
So it’s entirely possible that you already have in mind the area(s) where you will focus your seasonal support locally this year, but there is nearly always room for more generosity toward the community’s many fine nonprofits, particularly in difficult times.
It’s certainly no secret that these are such times.
And I’ve made no secret of my conviction that every one of us deserves to have enough to eat, along with access to medical services when we need them. In our society, these things are not reserved solely for those fortunate enough not to have lost the means to pay for them. It’s quite literally a moral imperative.
So it warmed my heart to hear that Naperville’s busiest hunger relief agency, the Loaves & Fishes Community Pantry, did pretty well earlier this week, when people reached deep into their pockets on Giving Tuesday.
Organizers were cautiously optimistic about reaching the $25,000 mark that would enable the pantry to receive a matching donation from an anonymous benefactor. The preliminary total, including the silent supporter, came to $97,147.89.
“Speechless about covers it, and we haven’t gotten today’s mail yet for any who mailed their Giving Tuesday check!” Jody Bender, the pantry’s director of community engagement, said in an email.
This is no time to back off on helping with hunger relief.
“We have been so busy — a couple weeks ago, we set a record of 880 families in one week, yes you read that right — and we are seeing a steady flow of families coming for help,” Bender said. “I think the impact of the (food stamp) cuts is being felt, because our families last month increased by 6 percent.”
If you’d like to kick in some dough to put bread on the table, you can do that at www.loaves-fishes.org.
But again, it’s good to share the love. Other Naperville organizations that lift up people in tough times, like Naperville CARES and Families Helping Families, can do more with more funds — or other useful things. Naperville CARES, for instance, can take your old car, particularly if it’s still in decent running condition, and give it to someone who needs transportation to get a job or keep one. The agency on Monday will see eight of its clients receive gently used cars, courtesy of the Continental Motors Group. That’s eight people whose chances of staying off unemployment just got a boost. Learn more about ways to help the agency at www.napervillecares.org.
There are also lesser-known worthy causes that merit consideration too, some of which offers ways to help without even cracking open the checkbook.
There’s Grahamville Rescue & Sanctuary, which has a thriving chapter in Naperville that spares impounded and other seemingly unwanted dogs from euthanasia — and then gives them the best thing possible: a family to love. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities, and foster homes — where pooches can be cared for until their forever family comes along — are nearly always needed. It goes without saying that some kibble cash would be greatly appreciated as well. You can find out more at www.digsk9.org.
The Naperville Park District has a scholarship program that makes it possible for kids from low-income families to take part in district programs with help from fee waivers. According to Ray McGury, the Park District’s executive director, applications for the scholarship assistance have risen by 200 percent over the past several years. There are more details about helping meet that ballooning need at www.napervilleparksfoundation.org.
How about this: free legal advice. Unheard of, you say? Not so! The Citizen Advocacy Center empowers residents throughout the metro Chicago region to use their voices and their access to public information to optimize that gloriously messy and spectacular exercise we call democracy. They don’t charge a dime for the service, but they do have lawyers and other staff who need to put bread on their own tables, so they’d be grateful for a donation as well. For more about the splendid CAC, go to www.citizenadvocacycenter.org.
In virtually all of these generous scenarios, you can donate in the name of, or in honor of, someone special to you. That’s truly a win-win.
And you thought you were having trouble coming up with ideas for the perfect gift.