If you’re in the Cook County area and you have fallen on hard times, rest assured that there are many people and organizations out there who can help you this holiday season.
If you have kids, there are multiple organizations that will give your kids toys for free. There are also many food banks that will allow you to come by and pick up non-perishable food. Finally, there are many nonprofits that will serve hot ready-to-eat meals during the holidays. To learn more about the services available in the Cook County area, read on.
Catholic Charities Diocese of Chicago
Although located in Chicago, they serve both Cook County and Lake County. So, you do not need to be living in the city of Chicago to access their programs. They have two Christmas programs. They have a Sponsor-a-Family program plus a Toy Shower program. They serve more than 20,000 needy children every year. Check their website for additional information.
This agency not only offers toys to children from low-income families, it also offers winter coats. Toys are passed out on a first-come, first served basis based on donation levels.
There are two Toys for Tots branches for Cook County. One is for Chicago. This one is for parts of the county outside of Chicago. You typically need to sign up online to participate in this program that provides free Christmas gifts for children up to age 12.
This branch of the Salvation Army participates in the Angel Tree Christmas gift program. They also do holiday meal gift boxes to help families in need to have a holiday meal at home. They have a regular food pantry that serves the community year round, but these gift boxes are intended to provide traditional holiday meal items.
Grant a Wish of Chicago Holiday Program
They serve the greater Chicagoland area, including the suburbs. Their site is not clear how you can apply. You may need to apply through a different agency.
The Walter and Connie Payton Foundation
This foundation has a holiday program. They serve the entire state of Illinois. Their holiday program provides gifts for needy children and Veterans throughout the state. They also have other programs. You can check the website for more information.
Get help with holiday food from these programs in Cook County, IL.
This is a branch of the Salvation Army that supports senior citizens. They will donate meals at Thanksgiving and Christmas for low-income elderly Chicago residents.
The Cathedral Shelter will provide low-income people with holiday food baskets. Supply may be limited, so the Cathedral Shelter asks that only those who truly need holiday food baskets take advantage of their services.
Chicago Uptown Ministry
In addition to its toy program, also hands out hams and turkeys during the holidays. These hams and turkeys are fresh and ready to eat immediately. Many people also visit their food bank and combine these food items with the hams and turkeys for their Christmas and Thanksgiving meals.
They also operate a food bank in addition to its other services. Food handed out commonly includes canned fruits and vegetables, bread, peanut butter, and other staples. As the name suggests, the ministry is located in the Uptown area of Chicago. However, they will help residents that live anywhere in the Chicago area.
St. Edna Catholic Church Pantry
This church has a food pantry for local families and individuals in need. Check their website or call them to find out the parish office hours. You should be able to request access to the food pantry service during their regular office hours.
Hillside Food Pantry
This church based program does not ask for proof of residency and there are no income restrictions. Anyone is welcome. You can access the pantry once a week. It is open on Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. You will need to fill out a registration form the first time you go. If you need any additional details, you can check their website or call them at (847) 328-7182. They are at located at 2727 Crawford Ave. Evanston, Illinois. Their website indicates they are on the north side of the church parking lot.
The Harvest Food Pantry of Vineyard Christian Church
This food pantry welcomes anyone struggling to make ends meet. You can visit them twice a month. They will need your name and address and you must sign in for every visit. You do need a photo ID with proof of address. Their website has additional details on this policy. The pantry if open every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. They also have additional services, such a clothes closet. You can call them at (847) 328-4544. They are located at 2495 West Howard St. in Evanston, Illinois.
The Salvation Army will delivery free hot meals to your door. This is in addition to there are angel tree program where they donate toys to children.
Soup at Six Soup Kitchen
This is a soup kitchen operated out of the basement of the Hemenway United Methodist Church. They serve a hot meal every Tuesday night including holidays.
Souper Saturday Meal Program – First Presbyterian Church
This church provides a meal once a week on Saturday and may also have holiday-themed dinners.
This Oak Park food relief program provides a pantry that is open every Saturday and Wednesday. They also provide assorted other services, such as nutrition education, cooking classes and benefits counseling.
New Life Ministries Church of God in Christ
This church has a food pantry that serves its local neighborhood. The pantry is open once per week.
Project Hope, Barrington
This church based program also provides food pantry services. There is an intake process and they may be able to refer you to other resources in the area.
The Village of Arlington Heights Senior Center Lunch Program
The Senior Center provides a free lunch for people age 60 and over. This is available Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 12 noon. You can eat in or pick it up and take it to go. They also have assorted other programs for seniors. Check the website to find out more about their other programs.