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Give It Up



You've given your blood and donated your money, now (especially if you're moving October 1) you want to send all that other stuff you don't need. Well, New York doesn't want it and neither does Washington, but people in Chicago need it as much as they ever did. You can leave it in the alley for the Dumpster divers, but another method of distribution to the poor that's almost as direct is through local charities. Some thrift shops, such as the Salvation Army and the Society of Saint Vincent DePaul (which recently closed its shop on Western near Lawrence), not only sell donated goods but also give them away, either through churches or to applicants. Besides these, however, there are many less-visible community-based not-for-profits that give stuff directly to people in need. Here is a short (but by no means comprehensive) list. Except where noted, donations are taken during business hours.

American Indian Center

1630 W. Wilson, 773-275-5871

Accepts (preferably winter) clothing, furniture, small appliances, books, and canned food and distributes to people in Uptown. "We service low-income families," says executive director Joe Podlasek, "people who don't have a lot of things that we take for granted." Open for drop-offs 10-3 Monday-Thursday; calling ahead is appreciated.

Apna Ghar

4753 N. Broadway, suite 518, 773-334-0173

Bharati Dev, program director

Apna Ghar ("Our home" in Hindi-Urdu) is a shelter for battered women and children, primarily of Asian background. It can use clothing, furniture, small appliances, and kitchen supplies. Naiyer Rafathullah, the office manager, asks those who wish to donate goods to call ahead, because "We ask our clients what they need." Office hours are 9-5 Monday-Friday.

Association House

1116 N. Kedzie, 773-772-7170

An educational center that gives donated goods to both clients and walk-ins, Association House accepts clothing, bedding, and kitchen appliances. Open 8-8 Monday-Friday.

Catholic Charities

721 N. LaSalle, 312-655-7500

Catholic Charities serves people in need at sites throughout the city, accepting clothes and small household items, which can be dropped off 7-7 Monday-Friday and 7-1 Saturday.

Children's Clothing Pantry

Rogers Park Presbyterian Church

7059 N. Greenview, 773-262-3667

The Children's Clothing Pantry needs women's and children's clothing, baby furniture, and school supplies, and gives them to "anyone who comes in the door," according to

Reverend William Lovell. Open 9-1 Tuesday and 1-5 Saturday.

Christopher House

2507 N. Greenview, 773-472-1083

Judy O'Callahan, manager of emergency services

Christopher House has been serving the north side for a century, with programs ranging from day care to assisting seniors. It accepts furniture, clothing, kitchen supplies, toiletries, books, records, food--"We need anything," says associate site director Raquel Ponce de Leon, and goods are given to "anybody in the community that needs them." Open 7:30-6 Monday-Friday.

Family Rescue


Velma, house manager

Family Rescue is a shelter for abused women and children, and according to Mari, who answered the phone there, it is one of only two shelters in Illinois that accept males up to age 17. "We have 36 beds, including cribs," she added, "and they're always full." They need clothing, bedding, and toiletries. Phoning ahead for the drop-off site is a must. Mari says, "We can't give out our location, because of the possibility of an abuser posing as someone else." Drop-off hours are 9-9 Thursdays.

Habilitative Systems

415 S. Kilpatrick, 773-261-2252

Accepts clothing, furniture, books, and canned food and redistributes them to the community at large. Open 9-5 Monday-Friday.

Heartland Alliance

208 S. LaSalle, suite 1818, 312-660-1313

Jenny Mack

The Heartland Alliance will take furniture, clothing, small appliances, and kitchen goods and give them directly to refugees, immigrants, or formerly homeless people who have homes with nothing in them. "We especially need alarm clocks," says Heartland's Jenny Mack, "because the people need them to get up for work." Phone ahead, 9-5 Monday-Friday.

Howard Area Community Center

7648 N. Paulina, 773-262-6622

The Howard Area Community Center offers a wide array of services to low-income people including adult education, literacy programs, Head Start, and a food pantry. Needs are good winter clothing, new children's books, canned goods. Open 9-5 Monday-Friday, 10-noon Saturday.

Jane Addams Hull House Association

312-906-8600, ext. 217

M.A. Morgan

The Jane Addams Hull House Association runs programs all over the city and can use goods of practically every description, from books, toys, and board games to knitting supplies for seniors. They also need professional suits and outfits for clients looking for jobs, and apartment-sized furniture. Phone for more information, 9-5 Monday-Friday.

Neapolitan Lighthouse

864 N. Christiana, 773-638-0228

Neapolitan Lighthouse accepts donations of tools, professional clothing, and small household items, which it distributes to victims of domestic violence. Open 9-5 Monday-Friday.

Port Ministries

5058 S. Ashland, 773-778-5955

Port Ministries operates a soup kitchen and distributes food and clothing to people in need. It doesn't have space for furniture, but does need men's and children's clothing. Donations can be dropped off between 10 and 5.

United Way

First Call for Help

312-876-1142, 800-725-5314

Among the many services provided by United Way, First Call for Help will put individuals in touch with agencies across the Chicago area that need donations of furniture, clothing, and household items. Phone 8:30-5 Monday-Friday.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jon Randolph.

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