It’s Giving Season: Volunteering Opportunities in Chicago


Feeding the Need club after volunteering at Feed My Starving Children. Members from the left: Alex Tianis, Viet Tong, Makayla Mascorro, Ellie Cogley, Sydney Romal, Brendan Urganus, Jacob Volkers, Dieder Thyen, Oscar Frampton.

By Saskia McDonogh Mooney, Editor-In-Chief

’Tis the season of being thankful and giving back — the harvest is over and now it is time to share the rewards reaped. Thanksgiving is when family and friends gather to have an extravagant meal, however, according to The Greater Chicago Food Depository, 1 in 5 Chicago households are experiencing food insecurity. As a result of this, during a season when food insecurity is highlighted and being thankful for one’s own fortune is the mantra, people will often attempt to ensure that others have access to the resources they need. There are many ways in which to participate in this heightened time of kindness, but volunteering remains the most prevalent option. Throughout Lane Tech, students have been getting involved in helping their own communities and the city as a whole.


Senior Staja Szukala is one of those people. She has been volunteering at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Old Irving Park for as long as she can remember to serve and make a Thanksgiving meal for those who are unable to or cannot afford to do so themselves.


“I feel that it is important to give back to the community,” Szukala said in an email. “Having the comfort of being at home, eating a multiple course meal is nice, but there are many people out there who don’t have that privilege. As members of a community, it is our responsibility to help one another.” 


Senior Dieder Thyen has also spent a significant amount of time volunteering at soup kitchens, food pantries and food banks, as well as Feed My Starving Children (a Christian non-profit dedicated to providing nutritious meals to children around the world). He recommends participating and giving back to others not only for the impact but also for the experience.


“It’s awesome, just getting to meet people and knowing that you’re helping people out — even if it’s not face to face with the people that you’re helping, just knowing that you are, makes it really nice,” Thyen said.


Further, Thyen emphasizes the importance of getting involved.


“There’s a lot of people that need help, and a lot of people that don’t want to help those people, and so we need more people who want to help those people,” Thyen said.


Going beyond Thanksgiving and food insecurity, there are so many issues that people face that students can aid in healing. There are numerous clubs at Lane which focus on helping others, organizing drives or donations, and volunteering. Some examples include Feeding the Need, Helping Hands, Key Club, and Cradles to Crayons.


Lucy Owen, one of the presidents of Cradles to Crayons, said she has been volunteering there since freshman year, about once every two weeks. It is a five minute walk from Lane — right behind WGN — and their mission is to provide resources to homeless and low-income children. Owen stresses that there are countless ways students can volunteer through the school.


“We [Cradles to Crayons] do volunteer shifts every other week, and we even have donation drives which are twice a year,” Owen said. “I know Key Club puts together a bunch of different volunteer opportunities throughout the year. So does the National Honors Society (NHS) with signing up for tutoring.”


For those looking to participate in the volunteer-based clubs at Lane, go to and click on the “Students” tab in the top left corner; then go to “Student Clubs” and scroll down to find another link that leads to a spreadsheet with the names of all clubs, their sponsors, and the emails of the club presidents. 


There are also other volunteer opportunities presented by organizations such as Feeding America and the Greater Chicago Food Depository, however the times closest to Thanksgiving are mostly booked. Although, also provides a wide range of possibilities across the city and country.


Volunteers have found that giving back and aiding others is an important part of ensuring that communities stay committed to supporting one another. It is not difficult to get involved, and it only takes a little bit of time to create a significant difference for a cause bigger than one’s self. 


“It is important that in general we help our communities…we gain so much from our communities, especially in a school setting, that then helping out your community in turn is really important,” Owen said.