With fall days growing crispier in Illinois and the streets lined with colored leaves, we cannot deny that we are getting closer to the holidays. At SOS Children’s Villages Illinois, the winter season often inspires our supporters to show generosity to the children in our care through intentional donations to spread holiday cheer to children in need throughout the Chicagoland in our Villages and beyond.
We are making it fun and easy for you to gift to our Holiday Giving Program this year by dedicating a theme to each of the twelve weeks until 2020. These suggestions focus on different giving opportunities to enhance this time of the year for youth in foster care. Each week, we invite you to discover more about the diverse learning opportunities and healthy engagement SOS Illinois offers to uplift and inspire our children and teens.
Week One, beginning October 7: The Gift of Education
Annually, SOS Children’s Villages Illinois celebrates a 100% high school graduation rate compared to the national average in foster care of less than 50%. With the support of our full-time professional Foster Parents and our on-site case management and clinical teams, the youth in are care are able to focus on academics first. Give the “Gift of Education” this holiday season by supporting the programs that make our academic success possible!
Week Two, beginning October 14: The Gift of Music
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, music can act as a positive medium for processing emotions, trauma, and grief, while also regulating anxiety and easing depression symptoms. At SOS Illinois, we encourage the youth in our care to explore different ways to foster creativity on the journey towards healing. By gifting our youth musical instruments, headphones, gift cards to music streaming platforms, and more during this holiday season, you can help our children and teens in foster care grow creatively and emotionally. Learn how to inspire our music-makers here.
Week Three, beginning October 21: The Gift of Self-Care
As SOS Illinois employs on-site clinical therapists to support the needs of the children in our care, we’re fortunate to have mental health resources at all of our Villages. As part of the services offered, our clinical therapists offer techniques and strategies for self-care for youth of all ages. That way, children at SOS Illinois are able to care for their emotional selves no matter where they may be! Give the “Gift of Self-Care” this year by making a gift in support of our clinical services.
Week Four, beginning October 28: The Gift of Play and Sport
Staying active and engaged on our Villages is key to maintaining physical and mental wellness, as well as utilizing energy on productive tasks. The youth in our care often keep busy with an array of different sports, from basketball, to baseball, to football, to soccer and more. Giving the gift of athletic equipment suitable for youth of all ages is a great way to show the youth in our care that they deserve to have a little fun, especially outdoors! Learn more here.
Week Five, beginning November 4: The Gift of Science Exploration
A crucial component of the Early Leaders tier of the College Bound and Beyond Program is STEAM education for children ages 12-16. This programming invites our youth to expand their minds and imaginations while learning about the history, practices, and methods of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. By gifting the youth in our care items such as science kits, STEM/STEAM-based games, art sets, and more, you’re helping to create the next generation of innovators, inventors, and creators! Learn how to give here.
Week 6, beginning November 11: The Gift of Warmth
Who doesn’t love curling up in a warm bed on a chilly winter evening? For children and families serviced through our programs at Casa Tepeyac, sometimes the makings of a warm bed are hard to come across. With the services and resources offered by our dedicated team at Casa, families resettling into the Back of the Yards Community are able to have what they need to set them up for success. By giving the “Gift of Warmth” this holiday season, you can help us provide every day necessities, important workshops, and one-on-one support to families in need in Chicago.
Week 7, beginning November 18: The Gift of Giving Back
Each year, the Tuesday following Thanksgiving is marked as “Giving Tuesday”, a time to remember the dedicated organizations around the globe working for a better tomorrow. In a season driven by shopping for, wrapping, and opening gifts, the “Gift of Giving Back” goes far beyond the bounds of boxes and tape. Donating to SOS Illinois on Giving Tuesday means helping to create a lasting legacy for sibling groups in foster care in Illinois. This holiday season, give the gift that lasts forever.
Week 8, beginning November 25: The Gift of Self-Expression
According to the American Journal of Public Health, “Art helps people express experiences that are too difficult to put into words…there are clear indications that artistic engagement has significantly positive effects on health.” As such, we find it especially important that the youth in our care each develop an appreciation for methods of healing self-expression. Whether writing in a journal, painting with watercolors, creating new dance routines, or getting involved in a school theatre program, the youth in our care practice diverse ways of showing creativity and expression. This holiday season, give the “Gift of Self-Expression” by gifting new art kits, writing journals, and more to the next generation of budding artists. Learn more here.
Week 9, beginning December 2: The Gift of Individuality
For those of us with teenagers at home, we know how difficult it can be to find the perfect gift. With transforming interests and activities, it can be so hard to keep up with what your teen enjoys! For many of teens, we know they love opportunities to shop for themselves. For those in foster care, especially, being able to purchase your own clothing, accessories, or fun items can feel empowering after times of feeling powerless. In honor of this holiday season, consider giving the “Gift of Agency” by donating gift cards and certificates for popular teenage spots, such as Target, Old Navy, Footlocker, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Best Buy, and more. Learn how here.
Week 10, beginning December 9: The Gift of Whimsy
Creating bold, colorful imaginations is crucial in healthy childhood development and lifelong learning. For youth at SOS Illinois, the ability to dream is one component of reclaiming what it means to be a child without adult responsibilities or concerns. From spending time inventing new games on the playground to creating comic books and short stories, our supportive community allows our children to focus on being children, leaving the rest to us. This year, give the “Gift of Whimsy” by supporting our programs and services, and encouraging each child in our care to live a playful life.
Week 11, beginning December 16: The Gift of Happy Memories
Creating happy, lifelong memories is just one way we try to preserve the goodness of childhood for each of the youth in our care. Together with their full-time, professional Foster Parent, siblings at SOS Illinois are encouraged to spend plenty of time participating in family activities, games, and new traditions. Whether attending a Chicago sport’s game, visiting a science museum, or learning about animals at a local zoo, our families know that experiential learning can also mean some solid, family fun! Offer the “Gift of Happy Memories” to SOS Illinois families this year by donating passes or tickets to local attractions, movie theatres (such as AMC or Fandango), and more. Learn how today.
Week 12, beginning December 23: The Gift of Hope
As 2019 draws to a close, we are inspired to pursue another year of learning, growing, healing, and loving. By giving the “Gift of Hope” through a tax-deductible donation to SOS Illinois, you enable us to continue providing groundbreaking programs and services to siblings in foster care and at-risk families in the community. Our 2020 can be even more powerful with your help! Give a gift today to create a legacy that lasts a lifetime.
Follow along each week of 12 Weeks of Giving on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and check out our Holiday Giving Program page regularly for updates on donation drop-off locations, requirements, and considerations.
We are so grateful to celebrate another holiday season alongside you! Thank you for the thoughtfulness and generosity you offer to SOS Illinois each year!