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Participate in Giving Week and Make the World a Better Place

The first day of December this year is an important one for many vital organizations around the country. Following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we finally have a day to celebrate helping others. Giving Tuesday marks the day in which people go out of their way to give to charities devoted to making the world a better place. Yet there are so many causes worth supporting that I am declaring the next five days as #Giving Week, encouraging readers to donate to their favorite charities or community groups.

I am also making a plea on behalf of 4 really great organizations with which I am associated. I am on the board of directors of After School Matters; the Tree of Life board of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC); the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Foundation (ALPLMF), and the board in formation of the Roger Ebert Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

1. AFTER SCHOOL MATTERS is the largest out-of-school program provider of its kind, with their programs numbering over 1,000 in 75 high schools and more than 200 community organizations. More than 23,000 opportunities are offered to teens to acquire hands-on experience in the arts, science, sports and other areas. On December 1st, After School Matters launched its #PaintTheSchoolsPurple initiative, encouraging the public to support its stated mission to "provide EVERY Chicago teen with a life-changing after-school and summer program opportunity." On social media sites, people have shared photos of people wearing purple After School Matters T-shirts in support of their cause, yet there is still more that can be done throughout Giving Week and beyond. You can follow After School Matters on Facebook and Twitter, and make a donation on their website. After School Matters will also be hosting a "Shop, Jingle & Mingle" event from 4 to 7pm Tuesday, December 15, at their Chicago retail store located at 66 E. Randolph St. For more info, click here.

2. REHABILITATION INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO (RIC) has been the #1 ranked rehabilitation hospital in the United States since 1991 (25 years). It is an independent, non-profit organization that provides for over 55,000 people each year and is the world’s leading hospital and research enterprise in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

RIC is particularly close to my heart because I got to witness its quality of care multiple times when my late husband Roger was admitted there to learn how to walk and use a computer all over again after a debilitating surgery or hospital stay. Their mission is to help the patient find his/her level of ability to live a life within their own sphere of "new normal." And I have seen miracles performed with prosthetics for vets who had limbs blown off in war, or others who regained mobility and even an ability to participate in sports or just hug their children. 

I can't say enough good things about RIC and I hope you open your hearts and your pockets and donate. 

Donations can be made here.

3. ABRAHAM LINCOLN PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM FOUNDATION is the most visited presidential library in the country preserving the archives of our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. It is encouraging people to donate to its annual fund, in honor of the upcoming 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment (ending slavery). Schoolchildren love this museum, but there is something for everyone, adult and child alike. People who donate $150 during Giving Tuesday will receive a three-dimensional gold-plated ornament, while those who donate $500 or more will receive an engraved pen and pen box. For more info or to donate, click here.

4. UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-URBANA/CHAMPAIGN is a public university that is a world class leader in research, teaching and public engagement, with acclaimed schools of engineering, business, media, social work and law, among other fields. The University is seeking donations for the Illinois General Scholarship Fund, the Chancellor's Fund, the Roger Ebert Film Festival Fund and others. 

We are collaborating with the College of Media for The Ebert Center. The Center will realize Roger's dream for a crossroads of film studies, production, technology and ethics. It will encourage writers and filmmakers to think as critically about movies as Roger did and challenge them to craft more humanitarian films and tell stories that matter. These are the values Roger lived and championed with uncommon clarity and conviction. Please help us to continue his mission, or donate generally to the University.  

You can make a contribution to The Ebert Center by clicking here.

Chaz Ebert

Chaz is the CEO of several Ebert enterprises, including the President of The Ebert Company Ltd, and of Ebert Digital LLC, Publisher of, President of Ebert Productions and Chairman of the Board of The Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation, and Co-Founder and Producer of Ebertfest, the film festival now in its 24th year.

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