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6 Ways to Give, Other than Gifts

If you have the spirit of volunteerism this holiday season, Patch has some suggestions for you.

After compiling your long holiday wish list for Santa and figuring out how many pricey gifts you can afford for friends and family, you may want to think of ways to give to the less fortunate. Patch has done all the research and has come up with six ways Oak Forest residents can either donate time, items or money to local charities.

Things to Give

Oak Forest Toy Drive

Who's in charge?    city of Oak Forest, (708)687-4050

What can I give?     new toys

When can I give?     now, through Dec. 17

Where do I go?     Oak Forest City Hall, 15440 S. Central Ave.

Colleen Kisel, of Oak Forest, has been collecting toys for the pediatric oncology departments of 39 hospitals throughout the nation since 1996 with the Pediatric Oncology Treasure Chest Foundation. Kisel thought of this idea in 1993 when she noticed that her seven year old son, Martin, found a distraction from the pain of painful procedures to treat his Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia with toys. Martin is now 25 and speaks to groups about how much those toys helped him.

Colleen said the holiday season is a vital time for the Treasure Chest Foundation.

"About 80 percent of the toys that are distributed come during this time of the year," Colleen said. "And they all come from about a 20-mile radius from Oak Forest."

The Marley Project

Who's in charge?     Oak Forest Youth Commission (708)687-4050; Marley Majetic

What can I give?     non-perishable food items

When can I give?     now, indefinitely

Where do I go?     Oak Forest City Hall, 15440 S. Central Ave.

Another young resident has made a big impact on those less fortunate. Marley Majetic, 13, of Jack Hille Middle School collaborates with the Oak Forest Youth Commission to collect food for the poor. Non-perishable items can also be dropped off at Oak Forest City Hall. For more information contact the Oak Forest Youth Commission.

Church Charities

Who's in charge?    your church or parish

What can I give?     funds to purchase luminaria kits or Christmas magnets

When can I give?     Dec. 11-12, 18-19; throughout the year

Where do I go?     your church,

When you're not certain where you want to help you can always look to your church for some guidance. Lots of churches are busy helping the needy throughout the year but are especially busy during the holidays. St. Damian's, 5220 W. 155th St., is holding a food drive and selling luminaria kits and "Keep Christ in Christmas" magnets during the weekends of Dec. 11-12 and Dec. 18-19 after each Mass for $5. All proceeds go to the St. Vincent DePaul Society that helps the poor and needy in the Oak Forest area.

Steve Amann, of St. Vincent DePaul Society, said it has sold the luminaria kits for almost 10 years and has become one of its main fundraisers.

"This allows us as Christians to carry out our mission to care for our forgotten brothers and sisters," Amann said.

Things to Do

If you're more interested in contributing a little labor, Patch hasn't forgotten about you. We found a few options for you.

South Suburban PADS

Who's in charge?    Dawn Thrasher (708) 754-4357 

What can I give?    services as a cook or chauffeur; gift cards

When can I give?     everyday, Christmas day

Where do I go?     414 W. Lincoln Highway, Chicago Heights

Dawn Thrasher of South Suburban PADS, said she's looking for people to provide desserts, side dishes and beverages on Christmas as PADS provides dinner for guests at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, 8607 S. Naragansett in Burbank.

If cooking isn't your cup of tea, Thrasher said they are also looking for people to transport their guests to the dinner and then to a shelter after dinner. If you're interested in donating food or beverages call Linda Seyller at (708) 857-1039 and if interested in transporting guests call Dawn Thrasher at (708) 754-4357.

If you're feeling monetarily generous, PADS is always looking for gift cards from places like Walmart and Target to help provide household items for people in the PADS housing program. Gift cards can be dropped of at the shelter.

Crisis Center for South Suburbia

Who's in charge?   Brianna Bielecki (708)429-7255  

What can I give?    services, items off the center's wish list

When can I give?     by Sunday, Dec. 12

Where do I go?     Tinley Park Public Library, 7851 Timber Dr., Tinley Park

Brianna Bielecki, Volunteer Coordinator, for The Crisis Center for South Suburbia, said the center is always looking for volunteers and donations year round, but there is also a holiday wish list. Items can be dropped off at the Tinley Park Public Library by Sunday, Dec. 12.

Tinley Park PAWS

Who's in charge?   Marilyn Bailey (708)429-7255  

What can I give?   volunteer services for shelter animals

When can I give?     next orientation is Dec. 14

Where do I go?    Tinley Park PAWS, 8301 W. 191st. St., Tinley Park

We wouldn't forget our four-legged friends. Marilyn Bailey, a member of the Board of Directors, said they try to fit volunteers where they feel the most comfortable. The next volunteer orientation date is Dec. 14. Registration is available at on the PAWS website

"We're like the mob. We're easy to get into but hard to get out," joked Bailey. "No one ever wants to leave once they start volunteering."

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