Welcome to November, that month that begins as we crash from our collective Halloween sugar rush while dipping a toe in the darkness of Daylight Savings Time. It wraps up with, in my opinion, the best holiday — not the whole colonialism and mythical first Thanksgiving dinner story — but the eating all the food, chilling with your family, and hopefully finding some ways to serve others part. Many of us spent last Thanksgiving separated from people we love. This year we have the tools to make it a safe gathering. 

I’m getting off track. Here are a few suggestions for getting the most from this month.


A three-paneled rectangular quilt piece hanging on a black wall. One panel has musical notes and a red dress, one has a white door with black bars on the windows, and the other shows the silhouette of a man sitting on the floor of a jail cell, tally marks are scratched on the wall. The name Ruben is in white letters above the piece. Photo by Julie McClure.© Artist unknown, In memory of Ruben [last name unknown], Property of GCAP, Urbana, IL.  Photo by Julie McClure.

Sewn in Memory: AIDS Quilt Panels from Central Illinois

November 2nd - July 31st, Spurlock Museum

2021 is the 40th anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS in the United States. Globally, 32 million people have lost their lives to AIDS-related illnesses. In the U.S., the number of known deaths is around 700,000. In 1987, a quilt with 1920 panels honoring the lives of people who’d died of AIDS was stretched across the National Mall in Washington D.C. Beginning this week, you can see 21 of those panels at Spurlock Museum, each commemorating someone with a connection to this area. It’s an emotionally and historically important exhibit to see, and it will continue to evolve through July 2022. See it this month, then see it again in the future, and watch for other related events. Find hours here.

Dozens of people are running through a starting gate. They are dressed in caps and warm running clothes, and a few people have pink tutus on. Photo from Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation Facebook page. Photo from Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation Facebook page.

Run/walk and support parks

There are two fun annual races bookending the month of November where you can go out and get the blood flowing while also supporting park district programs.

Cupcake 5K

November 7th, 9 a.m., Dodds Park

Walk or run a 5K at Dodds Park, and get a cupcake when you finish. It’s $25 to participate, and that money will support the Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation scholarship fund, allowing more access to those who may have financial constraints to participate in CUSR programming. The course will also be wheelchair-friendly. You can either register online by Wednesday, November 3rd, or in person between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. the day of the race. 

52nd Annual Turkey Trot

November 28th, 9 a.m., Lake House at Crystal Lake Park

If a 5K feels like a bit too much, try the Turkey Trot! It’s just one mile - just enough to get your metabolism primed for all the eating. The event is free (and includes hot chocolate at the end!) but the Urbana Park District will be accepting donations for the Urbana Park District Scholarship Fund. The fund helps kids attend park district summer camps. No registration necessary, race check in begins at 8 a.m. 

An image from a movie poster. It has a light blue and white striped background, and Pee Wee's Big Adventure spelled out in red block letters. There is an image of the title character in a gray suit and red bow tie hanging on to a red and white bicycle. Image from The Virginia Theatre Facebook page.Image from The Virginia Theatre Facebook page.

Catch a flick at The Virginia

November 3rd, 11th, 21st at 7 p.m., The Virginia Theatre

There are three very different movies showing this month; a little something for everyone. See Oscar winner Moonlight on November 3rd, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure on November 11th, and/or Meet Me In St. Louis on November 21st. Each classics in their own way, and honestly I would absolutely see all three. Tickets are just $6, and you don’t have to spend your life savings on popcorn and candy at the Virginia. 

A row of stocking caps: pink, blue, red, gray. Photo from Cunningham Supervisor's Township Facebook page. Photo from Cunningham Township Supervisor's Office Facebook page.

Help keep the community warm this winter

We complain about dipping temperatures as November sinks us into winter, but winters here in C-U are especially hard on community members who may not have a stable address or the resources to stay warm. There are several ways to donate your gently used winter clothing right now. 

Cunningham Township Enoch Miller Sr. Warm Winter Gear Donation Drive

Coats/jackets, mittens, gloves, hats, new socks

Drop off locations: Cunningham Township Supervisor’s Office, Common Ground, Urbana Free Library, Channing-Murray Foundation

Mike Ingram will also be collecting items at the Recorder of Deeds office and at Farren’s (just pull up curbside), which will be given to Cunningham Township. 

Champaign Unit 4 Warm-a-Kid Drive

New coats, scarfs, hats, and gloves (size of coats most needed: Boys - S, M, L, XL and Men's S and M, Girls - S, M, L, XL and Women's S, M, and L, Toddler Boys and Girls- 4T & 5T)

Drop off locations: Unit 4 Center for Family and Community Engagement, 703 S. New Street

University of Illinois Community Credit Union will be taking donations for the drive at all of their locations from November 8-15.

Jubilee Cafe at Community United Church of Christ

Jubilee Cafe serves dinner to community members and students on Monday evenings, and they are looking for winter items to have available for guests as needed: Adult winter coats, winter hats, gloves and mittens, men’s new underwear, women’s new underwear, men’s new socks, women’s new socks, hand warmers, blankets, sleeping bags, new or gently used backpacks/string bags, pillows with pillow cases.

Items can be dropped off at CUCC, 895 S 6th St., Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Top photo from Urbana Park District Facebook page.