Donate to spread the holiday cheerWhat’s at the top of local nonprofits’ Christmas lists?
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
What’s at the top of local nonprofits’ Christmas lists?
“Money is the best thing,” said Karen Rautio, volunteer coordinator for the Silver Bay Food Shelf. The shelf purchases food from the main branch of Second Harvest Heartland at discounted prices, thanks to surplus food and grocery donations through the Feeding America network. In other words, your dollar goes a lot further in the food shelf’s hands than it does at a typical grocery store. However, Rautio noted, they are always accepting food donations since the need increases around the holidays.
Kirsten Crukishank, the director at Community Partners in Two Harbors, echoed that sentiment.
“It’s harder for us to get large sources of funding, so we rely more on local donations now than we used to,” she said. Donations go toward helping seniors stay in their homes as long as possible.
Volunteers are always welcome, she said, and Community Partners can also act as a distribution point for other donations. For example, a group of quilters from Emmanuel Lutheran Church recently donated some cozy new quilts. Since Community Partners works so closely with seniors, they know who may have the greatest need and can distribute donations accordingly.
The Two Harbors Christian Ministerial Association is another service that helps where help is most needed in the community. The Good Samaritan Fund is used to assist those who need help with a one-time expense, such as rent or an electricity bill. They provide chaplaincy services to the elderly and those who are incarcerated and they operate Neighbor to Neighbor, a thrift store in downtown Two Harbors that serves as a clearinghouse for many different types of help, according to THCMA secretary Lawrence Lee.
Donations can be designated to support a specific THCMA service. General donations to the ministerial association will be used as the association sees fit. Currently the THCMA’s greatest need is funding for chaplaincy, said Lee.
One of the easiest ways to donate during the holiday season is to drop your extra change into the red Salvation Army kettles located throughout the community. Of the money donated, 89% stays in Lake County (just 11% goes to administrative costs). Community members can sign up to ring a bell by calling Kiera Wilson at 834-8608.
“Our budget is set by the amount donated into our local kettles. This fundraiser is for the entire year’s budget. (Donations go) toward many needs throughout the year, such as backpacks for kids starting school, turkeys at Thanksgiving, toys for families that may not otherwise receive them, food cards, groceries, etc. Our volunteer extension board thanks you for volunteering during this holiday season," said Phyllis Mealey, chairman of the Salvation Army Extension Board for Lake County.
Donating to a local nonprofit is a unique way to spread the holiday spirit. Many nonprofits allow contributors to donate in another person’s name, so they can donate in honor of a loved one as a gift. Volunteering at a nonprofit with a loved one can be a great way to spend some time together during the holiday season.
There are many options outside of the area, too. Oxfam America has a program where donors purchase a gift—such as a dozen chicks or a cow—and the organization sends a card detailing your donation to a loved one while your money goes where it’s most needed. MN Girls Are Not For Sale, a campaign to end the prostitution of Minnesota girls, allows donors to donate in a loved one’s honor and the organization will mail the recipient a letter.
If it’s too difficult to decide where to donate, follow the advice of Bill and Melinda Gates:
“When people ask, “How can I help?” our answer is, “Follow your passions. When you find the cause that inspires you, and the way to get involved that engages your heart and your mind—you will make a big difference in the world.”
To check a charity’s credibility, look them up on www.charitynavigator.org.
Any of these nonprofits are worth our reader’s money.
Oxfam America, 1-800-850-7608, oxfamamericaunwrapped.com
MN Girls Are Not For Sale, 612-337-5010, mngirlsnotforsale.org
Community Partners, 834-8024, communitypartnersth.org
Lake County Food Shelves
Two Harbors Food Shelf, 834-2280, 2124 10th Street
Elijah’s Pantry (Two Harbors), 834-4545, 627 12th Avenue
Silver Bay Food Shelf, 226-4443, Mary MacDonald Center
Two Harbors Christian Ministerial Association, mail donations to Treasurer Jim Joseph, Living Waters Fellowship Church, 501 7th Avenue, Two Harbors, “Attn: THCMA”.
The Lake County Humane Society, 834-5806, 415 20th Avenue, Two Harbors
Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency, 834-2280, aeoa.org
Northshore Area Partners, 226-3635, northshoreareapartners.org
Northern Lake County Arts Board, northernlakecountyartsboard.com
Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, 353-7762, wolf-ridge.org
Just Kids Dental, justkidsdentalinc.org
North Shore Horizons, 834-5924, northshorehorizons.org
Lake County Historical Society, 834-4898, lakecountyhistoricalsociety.org. (If you wish your check to go to a specific county historical society, i.e. Finland, Bay Area or Toimi, write that in the subject line).
Ecumen Scenic Shores, 834-0849, ecumenscenicshores.org
Minnesota Veteran’s Home, Silver Bay, 226-6300, state.mn.us
See a nonprofit that’s missing? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 834-2141 and let us know.