Charity & Grassroots in Gage Park

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The Greater Chicago Food Depository strives to end hunger in Chicago communities by distributing food every day through its network of 650 pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and programs. These provide access to nourishment for more than 142,000 people each week, of which more than 1/3 are children and nearly 40% are working families. Volunteers and employees inspect, sort, and repackage all donated food to ensure safety, but they don't stop there. Along with supplying community kitchens and food pantries, the organization provides nutritious meals for children's programs and partners with Chicago Public Schools to distribute fresh produce and other nutritious food at food pantries located in schools. Last year, the Greater Chicago Food Depository distributed 66 million pounds of non-perishables, fresh produce, daily products, and meat--the equivalent of 150,000 meals each day to people in need across Cook County.

4100 W 42nd Pl
Chicago,
IL
US

The Teen Center is a fresh, new program that offers students a semistructured setting in which to engage the arts, establish new friendships, and bolster a stronger school community. Supporters have secured a dedicated space, time, and a staff person for the endeavor, but budget constraints prevent purchasing the resources and equipment necessary to strengthen the program. Among its needs are visual art supplies and music materials, technological resources, and resources for community-building activities.

3737 S Paulina St
Chicago,
IL
US

Will Allen has worn many hats in his lifetime. The son of a sharecropper, he founded his urban farming foundation Growing Power in 1993 after a brief career in professional basketball, going on to earn a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and a spot on Time magazine's Top 100 of 2010 list. From Milwaukee to Chicago, his city farms thrive, tended by a volunteer team of all ages who gain the all-too-uncommon satisfaction of knowing the "who, when, where, and how" of their vegetables’ origins. Besides providing the seeds, tools, and educational resources to green the thumbs of any willing student, the farms also foster community bonds by filling the pantries of select local restaurants and locavore squirrels.

3333 S Iron St.
Chicago,
IL
US

Each woman enrolled in the program is trained as an artisan papermaker, hand-crafting invitations, stationery, and notecards from recycled office paper and reclaimed flower petals. During their WomanCraft experience, participants sharpen their job-interviewing skills, build a resume and cover letter, and gain up-to-date employment references for future career opportunities.

4115 W Ogden Ave
Chicago,
IL
US

In a vacant lot in Roseland, 10 teenagers are hammering, drilling, and sawing two-by-fours. Their goal: to build a playground for their neighbors. As explained in an article in the Chicago Tribune, these young women are participants in Demoiselle 2 Femme’s STEM projects. As part of the program, they designed and built a playground squished between two storefronts to help provide a safe place for kids in the community to play, while putting the engineering principles they had learned through the program into action. These design projects are representative of Demoiselle 2 Femme’s larger goal for its participants, reflected in its French name–to turn “young ladies to women.”

Though Demoiselle 2 Femme’s founders started only with a few volunteer mentors in a local church, Sherida Morrison and Romanetha Looper envisioned a comprehensive program that would lead girls along the path from childhood to adulthood. Today, the founders and their group of coordinators work with numerous adolescent girls to help them think systematically and make productive life decisions. Their programs focus on the problems and challenges that girls can face in society, ranging from the prevalence of drugs and STDs to nutrition and family connectedness. An after school program provides weekly workshops on life skills and interpersonal relationships, project hopeful trains participants in financial literacy, and the Femme 2 STEM program empowers girls to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math through community transformation workshops.

See how Groupon helps you discover local causes and lend a helping hand at the Groupon Grassroots blog.

9415 S Western Ave
Chicago,
IL
US

In 2011, the documentary film The Interrupters introduced audiences to three Chicagoans whose job it was to walk the streets of their neighborhoods mediating violent disputes. The mediators in the film were working with CeaseFire, Chicago's Cure Violence program, to work with other Violence Interrupters to mediate 700 potentially lethal conflicts in Chicago. This often meant physically standing in between feuding individuals, putting their own lives at risk to make their communities safer. In addition to its work in Chicago, Cure Violence operates programs in seven other cities in Illinois and 14 cities across the United States. In 2011, the documentary film The Interrupters introduced audiences to three Chicagoans whose job it was to walk the streets of their neighborhoods mediating violent disputes. This often meant physically standing in between feuding individuals, putting their own lives at risk to make their communities safer.

Cure Violence's founder, Dr. Gary Slutkin, is an epidemiologist who approaches violence as an infectious disease that should be treated like any other epidemic—with scientifically proven methods. The organization applies the same techniques associated with disease control—detection, intervention, and changing behavior—to alter a community's perspective of violence and stop the problem at its source.

Within violence-plagued neighborhoods, the organization's Violence Interrupters—often former drug dealers, gang members, and violence perpetrators—detect and mediate potentially lethal conflicts. Outreach Workers, meanwhile, work with high-risk individuals to change the way they think about violence and help them work within the system to improve their lives. On a larger scale, Cure Violence shifts the discourse on violence within whole communities and society at large, emphasizing solutions to the problem instead of punishment.

See how Groupon helps you discover local causes and lend a helping hand at the Groupon Grassroots blog.

1603 West Taylor Street
Chicago,
IL
US

Gage Park Scene