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Gifts That Give Twice

by Debbie Atwood

The National Retail Federation announced that it expects holiday retail sales in November and December – excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants – to increase between 3.6 and 4 percent for a total of $678.75 billion to $682 billion, up from $655.8 billion last year. 

Between now and Christmas Day, Americans will spend an incredible amount of money on gifts for loved ones. While each year we remind ourselves and each other of the true meaning of the season, it’s easy to slip into shopping mode as the pace picks up and the big day looms.

Consider supporting Maine’s incredible nonprofits by purchasing gifts that will delight your family and friends AND help your favorite nonprofit thrive.

Memberships: There are an awful lot of choices and here are just a few suggestions…Maine Island Trail Association, one of Maine’s many land trusts, and the Kennebec Valley YMCA offer great member benefits that will keep giving year round.

Puppies! Kittens!: Cute baby animals (and the cute old ones, too) are always a hit. And by supporting these organizations, it comes without the hassle of emptying litter boxes or dealing with chewed shoes. Check out Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland, Avian Haven, Pets for Vets, and The Ark Animal Shelter to give a gift that the animal lover in your life will appreciate. (Warning: If you go to the animal adoption pages, we cannot be held responsible for your actions!)

The Great Outdoors: Conservation of our natural resources is something that all Mainers value and there are so many great organizations protecting and enhancing our environment. There’s the Blue Hill Heritage Trust, Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters, Viles Arboretum, and the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program  – that’s just a few!

Food and Agriculture: As we plan our holiday gatherings, we can remember that some of our fellow Mainers are hungry. These organizations help all Mainers have access to the nutrition they need. Bread of Life Ministries, Southern Maine Agency on Aging, and the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter are some of the groups in Maine working to end food insecurity.

Something that can go in a box or a bag: Many nonprofits, like your local museum, historical society, or nature center, have a gift store right on site. You can find a unique present, avoid the mall mayhem, AND support a nonprofit all at the same time.

Wish lists: If you don’t see anything above that seems exactly right, search our member directory and you’re sure to find just the right fit. You can search by geographic region or by mission (or both!). Most organizations will have an easy way to donate or even a wish list of needed supplies.

So, make your list, check it twice, and don’t forget about all of the extraordinary organizations that make Maine such a unique place. Your gift might not fit in a tidy box or bag, but it will continue giving throughout the year.

Did we miss a great organization or idea? Please comment.

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