This Christmas, choose sweet charity | As It Turns Out | December

Consumerville persuasively beckons many of us at this time of the year.

We hear: “Join our Christmas shopping extravaganza at the mall” or “Get the perfect gifts here to impress everyone in your life.”

Loud, long and obnoxious commercials, all compete for our attention. Talk about stress. Surely all of us have received our share of “perfect gifts” for which we’re obligated to give fictitious thanks.

In this day and age, and particularly in this economy, many of us are ready to change the way we look at gift giving.

We’ve all been affected by the recession. The unemployment rate is at 10.2 percent, and the dollar goes a shorter distance each day. Who has the finances or the energy to continue on as we did in the past?

Seems like we’re ready for a big change and all that’s needed is a nudge toward a viable alternative. So here’s one such nudge – one away from gifts that mean precious little, to a gift with no downside: Charity donations.

Why not give a gift that actually makes a difference? Why not give something that can actually help change lives?

It’s simple. Talk with the people you usually gift and find out what their favorite charity is, then give to that charity in their name. Instead of a wrapped gift, they get a card with the particulars. Very eco-friendly.

Any size donation makes a big difference to many deserving charities that may otherwise be unable to exist. Even five bucks can go a long way.

If you can’t afford to or prefer not to give money, there are other ways of gifting. Try donating food to food banks, pet food to animal rescues, books to the Friends of the Library, or pretty much anything to thrift shops.

Or you might consider volunteering your time, for instance sorting books at Stillwaters or helping with other fundraisers. The Kingston Community News provides an excellent source for covering our active local volunteer groups (see a sidebar on page 3) who need your help in their worthy endeavors. Remember churches and shelters give valuable assistance to those in need too.

I made a few calls last Sunday to some locals who enthusiastically offered their own favorite charities. Here are a few organizations suggested from past and present Community News contributors: Steve Bauer, Marilyn Liden Bode, Rebecca Pirtle, and Stephanie Stebbing. I took the liberty of adding to the list.

Human Welfare:

Kingston Food Bank (Call (360) 297-4861).

ShareNet Food Bank and Thrift Shop (Call (360) 297-2266 or

North Kitsap Fishline, food bank and thrift shop (Call 779-5190,

Live Food for Live People Services, donating healthy local produce and nutritional education to people in need. (Call (360) 432-9302 or email

The Kathleen Sutton Fund, helps pay for transportation for women in cancer treatment. (Call (360) 620-3259 or

Dispute Resolution Center of Kitsap County, providing mediation, education and mental health services. (Call (360) 698-0968 or

Animal Welfare:

North Kitsap Spay & Neuter, rescuing local felines (Call (360) 297-4165).

Paws of Bainbridge and North Kitsap, promoting local pet adoption, responsible ownership, and spay/neuter. (Call (206) 780-0656 or see

West Sound Wildlife Shelter, rehabilitation and education (Call (206) 855-9057 or see

These are just a very few of the deserving local charity organizations out there. Please share your own ideas with friends and family – and make a difference.

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