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Gifts That Give Twice

by Katie Manter

The 2020 holiday season certainly looks different this year but that doesn’t mean there’s any less opportunity to spread joy with thoughtful gifts for loved ones. As you start your holiday shopping, consider looking beyond online and retail stores and look to your local nonprofits to seek out gifts that give twice. When you purchase gifts from nonprofit organizations, you’re not only treating your loved ones (even the hard-to-shop-for people!), you’re recognizing and supporting organizations that make our communities vibrant. Below are some ideas for you to consider this gift-giving season:

The Great Outdoors

Maine’s outdoors have been a safe escape for many during this pandemic thanks in part to the organizations protecting and enhancing our green spaces. For the outdoorsy person in your life, consider a season pass to Inland Woods + Trails or Quarry Road to enjoy some cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Bundle up and make a socially distanced date with a loved one and explore your local land trust, or give a gift in their name to an organization that stewards Maine’s wild beauty.

A Year Unlike Any Other

Nonprofits have found so many unique ways to continue carrying out their work safely during the pandemic. Surprise your family with a trip to Boothbay and drive through the modified Coastal Maine Botanical Garden’s Gardens Aglow (tickets are running out fast!).  Gift a virtual baking class from the Maine Grain Alliance for your loved one who likes to spend time in the kitchen. Portland Ovations has Little Theatre Virtual Activity Kits to make your own Merrill Auditorium at home and stage your own performances in the comfort of your living room!

Something that Can Go in a Box or a Bag

Many nonprofits, like your local museum, historical society, or nature center, have gift stores on-site or online (special shout-out to the Abbe Museum who just launched their first online store). Check out the Center for Maine Craft, a retail shop run by the nonprofit Maine Craft Association that sells goods made by Maine-based artists, or the Maine College of Art’s annual online holiday sale. Your local library may also have gifts for the voracious readers in your life – check out the Portland Public Library Artist Series bookmarks and the Gardiner Library Association’s tote bags and notecards. What about the shopper in your life? Indigo Arts Alliance, Maine Cancer Foundation, and Maine Coast Fisherman’s Association have teamed up with Sea Bags to sell specially-designed bags with a portion of the sales donated to these nonprofits. Visit MOFGA’s pop-up shop in Freeport or shop their sampler boxes in their online Country Store. There are so many ways you can find a distinct gift, avoid the mall mayhem, AND support a nonprofit all at the same time!

Puppies and Kittens and Wild Animals, Oh My!

Cute baby animals (and the cute old ones, too) are always a hit. Check out Animal Refuge League of Greater PortlandAnimal Welfare SocietyBangor Humane Society, Midcoast Humane, Greater Androscoggin Humane Society, and SPCA of Hancock County among many others 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!) Interested in supporting a wild animal? Adopt an ambassador through the Center for Wildlife.

Extend Beyond Your Table

Many of our members organizations are anticipating an increase in residents facing food insecurity this winter. As we plan our holiday gatherings, keep in mind these organizations that help Mainers have access to the nutrition they need, and consider how you can contribute. This is a short list of some of the groups in Maine that are working tirelessly to end food insecurity: Augusta Food Bank, AIO Food and Energy AssistanceBar Harbor Food Pantry, Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program Wayside Food ProgramsBath Area Food Bank, Good-Shepherd Food Bank, Locker Project, and Catholic Charities Food Bank.

Fulfill a Wish

If you don’t see anything above that seems exactly right, search our member directory for other organizations around the state and seek out something that is right! You can search by geographic region or by mission (or both!). Many 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 will continue giving throughout the year.

Is your organization offering a gift options this holiday season? Please add additional ideas in the comments section!

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