Friends of the Chicago River is the only organization solely dedicated to the Chicago River. Every year they organize an annual clean up and restoration day, Chicago River Day.
From litter pickup to restoration to habitat creation, Chicago River Day is about helping the river in more ways than one. Volunteering is always a cheap and rewarding way to spend your time. If you’re thinking about volunteering for this event sign up as soon as possible because closer in locations fill up quickly.
Chicago River Day enlists thousands of volunteers at 60 locations along the Chicago River working together to collect garbage, sort for recycling, remove invasive vegetation, spruce up river-edge trails, plant native seedlings, and much more. Chicago River Day participants included corporate teams, community organizations, school groups, families, and individuals of various skill and ability levels from throughout the 673-square mile Chicago River watershed.
Who participates in Chicago River Day?
Friends of the Chicago River attracts thousands of new and returning volunteers, including school groups, corporate teams, families, community organizations, and individuals working side-by-side to enhance and restore the river…and you!
How long will I be volunteering?
Chicago River Day is scheduled from 9 a.m. – noon. Your site captain will direct you on what you will do to keep you busy at your site for the duration of the event.
When can I sign up for Chicago River Day?
Registration for this year’s Chicago River Day will begin in March 2016.
How do I sign up for a Chicago River Day location?
Once registration for Chicago River Day 2016 goes live, we will have a Google map of all the sites for you to choose from available on the Chicago River Day site registration page. You will register by clicking on the button for your desired site, and completing the Eventbrite registration form for that site.
What is the minimum age of volunteer that can attend?
At most sites, the minimum age of event participant is eight years old. There are a handful of sites that are family friendly, meaning that the little ones of your family can hang out at other parts of the site with a parent while the rest of the family volunteers.
What will volunteers be doing that day?
Volunteer activities vary from site to site. Volunteer projects on Chicago River Day include trash collection, sorting trash for recycling, removing invasive vegetation, sprucing up river-edge trails, planting native seedlings and more. Contact the site captain at your desired location for specific activites.
How do I get to my site? Where will I park?
You are responsible for getting to the site on your own. Site captains will provide you with the address of their sites as well as some advice on parking and directions. We will also have a link to a Google Earth map listing all sites. You can click on your site and get directions to the location listed. CLICK HERE for a Google map of previous Chicago River Day site locations. (It will open in a new window.)
What can I expect when I arrive at my site?
Chicago River Day is an outdoor event located in a variety of city parks, forest preserves, school yards and businesses all along the banks of the Chicago River and its tributaries. Each site has a site captain that will greet you upon arrival. They will ask you to sign Friends’ liability waiver, collect any additional required waivers, provide an overview of the day’s activities, a safety talk, and distribute supplies and t-shirts to all volunteers.
What happens if it rains?
Chicago River Day will proceed rain or shine. Plan your clothing accordingly.
What should I bring to Chicago River Day?
You should plan to bring all of the things you think are necessary for working in the outdoors. Volunteers should wear closed-toe shoes and comfortable clothes that can get dirty or damp. You should dress for the weather to make sure you are comfortable and warm. If it looks like it might rain, rain coats or ponchos are advisable. We also strongly encourage you to bring water, sunscreen, and your favorite work gloves.
Will you be providing gloves?
Friends’ will provide basic gloves. For the most part, the gloves are plastic gloves to protect your hands from unsanitary garbage. We highly recommend bringing your favorite pair of work gloves with you if you want something sturdier. We cannot guarantee cloth work gloves for all volunteers.
All volunteers need to sign liability waivers.
Some sites require additional waivers other than our Friends Waiver that you need to print and bring with you on the day of the event. Minors (under the age of 18) must bring waivers signed by a parent or guardian either before the event or at the event if the parent or guardian is attending. Friends’ cannot allow volunteers to participate or have an event t-shirt without these waivers. If you are not sure about what waivers you need, check the Eventbrite page for your location or contact the site captain.
Since 1979, Friends has been working to improve the health of the Chicago River for the benefit of people and wildlife; and by doing so, has laid the foundation for the river to be a beautiful, continuous, and easily accessible corridor of open space in the Chicago region.
In 2006, Friends opened the seasonal McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum in a landmarked bridgehouse on the Chicago Riverwalk to provide new access and understanding of the dynamic relationship between Chicago and its river. Click here for opening hours and information.