Charity & Grassroots in Illinois

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As a leading Illinois family- and child-service agency, Children’s Home + Aid serves more than 40,000 children and families each year through its child-development and -care programs, family counseling, and foster-care-advocacy programs. The organization's roots extend back to 1883, when the Reverend Van Arsdale brought into his home a young girl whose mother was in crisis. The minister's umbrella of care soon spread throughout the country, as he established advisory boards and worked to improve child welfare. Today, Children's Home + Aid focuses on early childhood and juvenile justice, preventing child abuse, and garnering positive child development in strong families.

The organization’s Raising A Reader program helps children ages 3-5 get "kindergarten-ready" by developing early language and literacy abilities. Much of this work incorporates full parental involvement; facilitators encourage parent-child bonding through everything from bedtime stories to engaging, brain-building activities. Currently helping more than 350 children develop these necessary scholastic skills, the Illinois chapter is just part of a larger national trend; in 2011, the national Raising a Reader program touched the lives of almost 118,000 kids across 32 states.

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

125 S Wacker Dr
Chicago,
IL
US

While audiences laugh it up at the rib-tickling comedians, Morty's slick performance space entertains their eyes. Eschewing the dowdy aesthetic of many comedy clubs, Morty's features sleek, modern tables and chairs and a wood-paneled bar. A full menu of tasty food, meanwhile, quells hunger while drinks and craft beers cool tongues and help keep people from spontaneously combusting.

4034 Fox Valley Center Drive
Aurora,
IL
US

The Rockford Art Museum has more than a century of creativity hanging from the walls in its galleries. It acquired its first piece in 1913 and has since collected more than 1600 pieces from local and international artists. Glass sculptures, 20th century American photography, and impressionist paintings vie for attention alongside the dynamic images of the American southwest from the Taos Society of New Mexico. The collection houses the detailed work of regional artists trained at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Royal Academy of Arts and the earthy, meaningful paintings of outsider art, such as Richard Burnside’s untitled painting of a cat made from paint and pinecone pieces.

Standing apart from the main collection, the museum’s RAM Art Annex houses educational programs and the museum store stocks an inventory of jewelry and glass pieces by local artists. The annual Greenwich Village Art Fair also shares art appreciation with the community. The fair gathers more than 100 artists in an atmosphere filled with live music.

711 N Main St Ste 3
Rockford,
IL
US

The Naperville chapter of Operation Snowball, a program of 360 Youth Services, operates under the notion that a simple message can spread and gain force organically through a community. Its programs focus on drug use, problem solving, and peer support for high-school students, both informing and empowering participants to create a change in their schools. Operation Snowball hosts three weekend retreats a year, with 225 teens and 40 adult volunteers in attendance at each. The retreats aim to prevent substance abuse and develop responsible decision-making skills. In small groups, teens participate in workshops and fun activities that range from reliving kindergarten and exploring mazes to dealing with grief. Friday night features a "no-talent" show to break the ice, and sessions of free time help youth learn about each other on their own terms.

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

1305 Oswego Road
Naperville,
IL
US

Less than 90 minutes from St. Louis, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum houses the world’s largest collection of original Lincoln artifacts, complete with the Gettysburg Address. A life-size replica of Lincoln’s log cabin set back in a forest of artificial trees stands 40 feet tall just like the President’s iconic top hat. The museum also houses a re-creation of the Presidential Box at Ford’s Theatre, where the president was assassinated, and the state-of-the-art Union Theater, which projects films such as Lincoln’s Eyes, a broad overview of Lincoln’s personal and political life with a special focus on slavery. In the Ghosts of the Library exhibit, transparent phantoms of Lincoln and his contemporaries drift around powered by Holavision technology. Youngsters, supervised by parents, can try on period dress, pose for photos with life-size cutouts of young Abe, or reenact historic scenes in the Lincoln Home dollhouse located in Mrs. Lincoln’s attic, the hands-on learning center. Before heading home, patrons can browse the museum store—more than 3,500 square feet of artifact replicas and Lincoln-themed merchandise.

112 N 6th St
Springfield,
IL
US

The Elgin History Museum seeks to preserve and share the history of the city of Elgin. Boasting Greek Revival-style architecture, the first floor exhibits show how Elgin developed form the 1830's to through the 1970's. Its museum focuses on the town's industry, its architecture, and, most importantly, its citizens. The second floor's thematic exhibits cover the world-renowned Elgin National Watch Factory, which employed generations of residents, and the Hiawatha Pageant, which was put on for 50 years to help preserve local Native American dances.

  • Size: five permanent exhibits, plus a handful of temporary exhibits

  • The Building: called Old Main, it was built in 1856 for the Elgin Academy prep school and is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places

  • Eye Catcher: Check out a replica of Elgin's first cabin, built by the Gifford family, who are credited as the city's founders

  • Permanent Mainstay: Elgin Road Races, which chronicles the competitions held in town beginning over 100 years ago in the early days of auto racing

  • Don't Miss: Explore Elgin Architecture illuminates the city's many design styles, from settlers' cobblestone homes to Victorian architecture to bungalows

  • Hands-On Exhibit: Watch Your Pocket allows kids to build a pocket-watch prototype as if they were working on the assembly line at the watch factory

  • Pro Tip: through the Adventure Pass program, Illinois residents can use their library card for free admission to this museum and 16 others

360 Park St
Elgin,
IL
US

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