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Shopping for Good

by Mary Erin Casale

It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.

Over the next 24 days, Americans will spend massive amounts of money trying to find that special something for their loved ones. Of course, we know that theWrapping Paper holidays are about much more than presents (we learned that here and here, right?), but I’ve got to imagine that you might be purchasing at least one or two gifts. What if you could give a gift that would not only be appreciated, but would also help support the great work of nonprofits in our state? (What? That is EXACTLY what you were looking for!? Perfect!)

Supporting non-profits in their missions has never been easier, and there have never been so many ways to be charitable. Whether you are searching for the perfect gift for an animal-lover, an outdoor adventurer or a foodie, there is an organization in Maine doing great work that needs your support. Here are just a few of the ways that you can give a unique and meaningful gift that will be appreciated long after December.

Memberships: There is no possible way that I could list them all here, but here are just a few suggestions…Maine Audubon, National Resources Council of Maine, Maine Historical Society, Portland Trails, Bicycle Coalition of Maine, and the  Island Institute all offer great member benefits that will keep giving year round.

Food and Agriculture: With the excess of the season, it’s hard to imagine that some of our fellow Mainers are going hungry. Supporting these organizations will help all Mainers have access to the nutrition they need. Augusta Food Bank, Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, Wayside Food Programs, Bath Area Food Bank, Food Joy, and Good-Shepherd Food Bank are some of the groups in Maine working to end food insecurity.

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 the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland, Animal Welfare Society, Coastal Humane Society, Maine Equine Welfare Alliance, or Silent Sidekicks to give a gift that the animal lover in your life would appreciate. York Center for Wildlife has a very cool Wildlife Ambassador sponsorship program and even an Adopt-an-Intern program! (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 Maine Coast Heritage Trust  (which manages more than 100 preserves along the coast), Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Friends of Casco Bay, Maine Huts and Trails, The Nature Conservancy – that’s just a few!

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 for the nonprofit that’s exactly what you are looking for. You can search by geographic region or by mission. (Or both!) Most organizations will have an easy way to donate to or even a wish list of needed supplies.

So while you are making your list and checking it twice, don’t forget about the all the extraordinary organizations that make Maine such a unique place. Your gift might not fit in a tidy box or bag, but we bet it will be appreciated all year long.

Did we miss a great organization or idea? Comment below and let us know how you’re supporting the work of Maine’s nonprofits this season!

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Sponsor an animal from Peace Ridge Sanctuary!

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