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General Event Information
What is Serve-a-thon?
Is there a cost to participate?
What are the age requirements for participation?
What are the hours?
Can I register onsite June 24?
Will lunch be provided?
What should I wear?
What if it rains?
What if I require wheelchair accessibility or have other health concerns?
What roles are available?
Where can I find the most updated Serve-a-thon information?

Registration and Teams
How do I register to volunteer?
Can my friends and family be assigned to the same project as me?
What is the minimum number of volunteers needed to form a team?
Can my team stay together or will we be split up?
Do I need to be part of a team? How do I register as an individual?
How do I start a team?
How do I join a team?
What if I registered but can't attend?

Event Kick-off Location/Serve-a-thon Plaza
Is there parking available near Serve-a-thon Plaza?
Is there a place for my team to meet in Serve-a-thon Plaza for the event kick-off?

Volunteer Projects
What will my project be?
Can I choose the project in which I/my team participates?
How will volunteers get to and from their project sites?
Can I drive to my project site?
What if I need to leave early?
Who will lead my project?

Raising Pledges
Who should fundraise?
Why fundraise?
How do I collect pledges for Serve-a-thon?
Is my donation tax deductible?
Will my company match my pledges?

 

General Event Information
What is Serve-a-thon?
Serve-a-thon is Chicago Cares' biggest event and the largest single day of community service in Chicago. On a Saturday in June each year, we gather thousands of registered volunteers at Daley Plaza and bus them to project sites across the city to perform hands-on service that may include painting, planting, and cleaning under the direction of trained volunteer leaders. After the marathon day of service, we bus the volunteers back to Daley Plaza, where they take part in a celebration with food, drink and live music.

Is there a cost to participate?
A $10 fee covers everything you need for the day. We'll organize all the details, and hook you up with supplies, a goody bag, light breakfast, lunch, plus a party with food and beer (for those of us of drinking age) afterward. You just show up and make a huge impact. Lots of companies sponsor their employees' participation, so if yours is one of them, you'll get a discount code for free registration.

What are the age requirements for participation?
Due to the nature of the service projects, volunteers must be at least 12 years of age on or before June 24, 2017, in order to participate. Each volunteer between the ages of 12 and 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian (at least one adult per child between the ages of 12 and 16 is required). Volunteers aged 17 and over can participate on their own. Roadies must be 18 years or older.

What are the hours?
Check-in will take place between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. at Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington. Volunteers will board buses to their service projects after check-in, and there will be a lunch break at each project. After the work is completed, buses will return volunteers to Daley Plaza for a celebration with free food, drinks (beer for ages 21+, ID required), and live entertainment provided in large part by event sponsors. The post-event celebration ends at 5:30 p.m.

Can I register onsite June 24?
Advance registration is required so we can be sure that all planned work can be completed and provide adequate supplies. The registration deadline is June 16 or when the event reaches capacity, whichever comes first.

Will lunch be provided?
Yep! Just indicate your lunch preference during the registration process, and your pre-ordered lunch will be delivered to your project site.

What should I wear?
Because projects may include painting, planting and cleaning, wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and closed-toed shoes. Bring your ID and only items that can be carried on you, as there won’t be a place to store or secure belongings. 

What if it rains?
Serve-a-thon takes place rain or shine. In the event of rain, outdoor tasks will go on as planned, be modified, or be moved indoors as needed.

What if I require wheelchair accessibility or have other health concerns?
If you require wheelchair accessibility, please notify us of your needs at info@chicagocares.org once you have successfully registered. If you have other health considerations, such as pregnancy, asthma or an allergy to latex, you may also notify us, and we will work to accommodate you.

What roles are available?

  • Sponsor Volunteer (code required) – Participating with your company? Create a new team or join an existing one. If you don't know your code, please contact the Team Captain at your organization.
  • General Volunteer – Want to volunteer with old friends or meet new ones? Create or join a team! Registration is just $10 and includes lunch, transportation to your project site and some fun extras. 
  • Roadie – If you can't serve the whole day and want to save a buck, we have the gig for you! Work side-by-side with the Chicago Cares staff to make Serve-a-thon happen. Help out with event management duties like checking in people and handing out breakfast at Daley Plaza during a morning or afternoon shift, or both.
  • Volunteer Leader –Take on a leadership role and manage a team of volunteers and a project at a service site. This role has some special requirements and training; contact Maura York for more info.

Where can I find the most updated Serve-a-thon information?
Check back to this website for the most updated Serve-a-thon information and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Registration and Teams
How do I register to volunteer?
Visit the Register page to begin. Once you have completed your registration, you will receive a confirmation email. If you encounter problems with registration, please contact us at info@chicagocares.org or 312-780-0800. The volunteer registration deadline is June 16 or when the event reaches capacity, whichever comes first.

Can my friends and family be assigned to the same project as me?
Yes, simply choose one person to be your Team Captain and form your own volunteer team. The Team Captain must register first. They will select "Create a Team" in the online-registration process. Once the Team Captain has registered, team members can select "Join a Team" and search for their team name or Team Captain name in the online registration process to register themselves to that Team Captain's team.

What is the minimum number of volunteers needed to form a team?
A team is any group of two or more volunteers. Teams can range in size from 2 to 50 people. The more, the merrier!

Can my team stay together or will we be split up?
All volunteers on the same team will be assigned to the same project site. If you would like to request that two or more teams be assigned to the same project site, please email us at info@chicagocares.org. We do our best to keep larger groups together, but due to project requirements and space constraints, we can’t guarantee it.

Do I need to be part of a team? How do I register as an individual?
Individual participants are welcome – in fact, participating in Serve-a-thon is a great way to meet new people! Visit the Register page and select "General Volunteer" then "Individual."

How do I start a team?
When you are ready to start your team, visit the Register page, indicate your Participant Type (sponsor volunteer or general volunteer), and choose "Create a Team." Select your team type (sponsor team or non-sponsor team) and then give your team a name.

How do I join a team?
Visit the Register page, indicate your Participant Type (sponsor volunteer or general volunteer), select "Join a Team," and click “search” to find your team. Type in the name of your team or the name of your Team Captain to find your team.

What if I registered but can't attend?
All registration types are nonrefundable and nontransferable. If you are unable to attend, we will consider your registration fee a donation. 

Event Kick-off Location/Serve-a-thon Plaza
Is there parking available near Serve-a-thon Plaza?
Volunteers are strongly encouraged to use one of the many public transportation options to Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington, on the day of the event due to high congestion anticipated in the area. Parking fees are not included in event registration; self-pay parking near Serve-a-thon Plaza is available in public garages.

Is there a place for my team to meet in Daley Plaza for the event kick-off?
As there will be no designated meeting places at Daley Plaza, we suggest you check in first then meet your team at a nearby intersection or on the bus to your project site.

 

Projects
What will my project be?
Volunteers will be given project site assignments at check-in on the day of the event. All projects will improve a Chicago school, garden, or nonprofit organization. Projects may include painting, planting, cleaning, and other hands-on work, so wear clothes that you don't mind getting dirty.

Can I choose the project in which I/my team participates?
Given the needs of our project partners, the volume of projects, and the number of volunteers participating in Serve-a-thon, we're unable to fulfill specific requests, but all projects will improve a Chicago school, park, or nonprofit organization.

How will volunteers get to and from their project sites?
Chicago Cares will bus all volunteers to and from their project sites. Volunteers must check in on the morning of the event in order to board the bus and attend a project. Volunteers will board buses at Daley Plaza after checking in between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. and will return to Daley Plaza by approximately 3:30 p.m. The event buses are the only mode of transportation to and from the project sites.

Can I drive to my project site?
No. Due to safety issues, logistical considerations and parking limitations at our service sites, you may not drive to your project.

What if I need to leave early?
Due to the nature of the event and volunteer activities, all volunteers must participate in the entire duration of the event. If you aren't able to participate in the full day, consider serving as a Roadie for a morning or afternoon shift and help Chicago Cares staff make the event happen.

Who will lead my project?
When you arrive at your project site, you will be greeted by your Volunteer Leaders. These individuals are volunteers who have gone through extensive training and preparation for the project, and they will provide instructions and guide your work throughout the day. If you have questions about the work, the schedule, or anything else taking place at your project site, the Volunteer Leaders are your go-to people! If you’re interested in serving as a volunteer leader, contact Maura York.

 

Raising Pledges
Who should fundraise?
Everyone! Whether you are an individual or a member of a corporate, church, alumni, or family team, you have the opportunity to ask everyone you know to support the volunteer work YOU will do on June 24. After you have registered for the event, simply log in for messaging you can use for emails and more.

Why fundraise?
The money we raise for Serve-a-thon helps cover the cost of putting on the big day. We coordinate every single aspect, plan every detail and purchase every supply to make it easy for you to volunteer and look good doing it. Funds also empower Chicago Cares to offer meaningful volunteer projects to tens of thousands year round, transforming the city for good.

How do I collect pledges for Serve-a-thon?
It's easy to collect donations online: After you have registered for the event, simply log in and use the online tools in your Fundraising Dashboard. You can also collect donations offline and submit checks at the Info Tent in Serve-a-thon Plaza on June 24 or mail them to Chicago Cares Serve-a-thon, Attention: Nicole Amling, 2 N Riverside Plaza Suite 1800, Chicago, IL 60606.

Is my donation tax deductible?
Yes, your donations (and those of individuals who make pledges to support you) are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Will my company match my pledges?
Quite possibly – many do. See if your company appears in our matching gift database or check with your Human Resources department to make your donation go even further.


 

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