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News / Clark County News

Holiday gift-giving can also help charities

Gift ideas abound that have bonus of aiding local causes

By Patty Hastings, Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith
Published: December 10, 2018, 6:00am
8 Photos
Raymond Roberts of Washougal moves a wicker bar to his van after shopping Dec. 4 at Divine Consign in downtown Vancouver. The shop, a nonprofit, is one of a few around town that donates its profits to local charities.
Raymond Roberts of Washougal moves a wicker bar to his van after shopping Dec. 4 at Divine Consign in downtown Vancouver. The shop, a nonprofit, is one of a few around town that donates its profits to local charities. (Nathan Howard/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

A study by financial technology company SmartAsset found that Clark County is among the most charitable areas in Washington, and when the holiday season rolls around, giving goes into overdrive.

Locals get involved in various drives, fundraisers and activities that benefit those in need. Philanthropically minded gift givers can continue being charitable in the way they approach purchasing presents.

Here are some options for checking someone off your gift list while simultaneously giving back to a local cause.

Give back to charities

A few shops around town give their profits to charity.

• Divine Consign at 904 Main St. in Vancouver primarily sells consigned furniture, but there are also smaller gift and holiday items for sale, and the downstairs has jewelry, clothing and accessories. Divine Consign, which is a nonprofit, gave $5,000 in grants to five nonprofit agencies this year.

• Boomerang Bistro at 808 Main St. in Vancouver is a cafe whose profits go back to charity. It could be a stop during holiday shopping to get a coffee and bite to eat, or you could grab a bag of coffee to gift to a coffee lover in your life. Since 2015, Boomerang, which until recently also had a shop like Divine Consign, has given back more than $90,000 to the community.

• Nifty Thrifty Charity Resale is a new thrift shop that exists to support local nonprofit groups. It’s tucked away in the corner of a strip mall at 6607 E. Mill Plain Blvd. in Vancouver and sells a bit of everything from clothes to housewares to Christmas decor and ornaments.

Support education

History buffs can support local educational programs by buying gifts from a museum, site or park gift shop.

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• The Clark County Historical Museum’s gift shop carries Pacific Northwest art, jewelry and books related to its history programs.

• All of the souvenirs in the gift shop at The Fort Vancouver Visitor Center relate to the historic site somehow. Friends of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, a nonprofit supporting educational and interpretive programs at the site, runs the shop at 1501 E. Evergreen Blvd. Inside, you’ll find Native American artwork, new and vintage books, and seeds from the Fort Vancouver garden. This year, the site’s blacksmiths, carpenters and costume makers have crafted items for the shop, such as ornaments and old-fashioned toys.

The visitor center, which is free to peruse, has an exhibit on Kanaka Village and Hawaiian people who lived at Fort Vancouver. To go along with the exhibit, the shop is selling Hawaiian jewelry, ornaments and figurines.

• Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is selling a 2019 calendar featuring, you guessed it, photos of wildlife at the refuge that can be bought online (ridgefieldfriends.org/news/2019-refuge-photo-contest-calendar) or in stores around Ridgefield, as well as at Backyard Bird Shop, 101 N.E. Parkway Drive #C5 in Vancouver.

Make a donation

For the philanthropic person on your list, an easy idea is to make a donation to their favorite charity. To gift something tangible, there are mission-based stores around town that act as the retail arm of local nonprofit groups.

• Bike Clark County, a nonprofit that provides cycling programs for children and schools, also has a full-service bicycle shop at 1604 Main St. in downtown Vancouver. It carries helmets, lights, pumps, bags, racks, locks, tools, bells, grips, bar tape, saddles — pretty much anything you could think to gift a cycling aficionado.

• Friends of the Carpenter, as the name implies, sells a variety of handmade wood products to help support its mission. Ornaments, decorative items, cutting boards and cheese boards are among the offerings, and the nonprofit does custom projects. There will be a holiday open house and product sale from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 14 and 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 15 at Friends of the Carpenter, 1600 W. 20th St. in Vancouver.

• ReTails Thrift Store is owned and operated by the Humane Society for Southwest Washington. The large thrift store at 5000 E. Fourth Plain Blvd. in Vancouver has a bit of everything, from clothes to furniture and housewares to toys to holiday decor. The nonprofit also has a pet store at its shelter at 1100 N.E. 192nd Ave., in Vancouver where people can buy toys and other gifts for four-legged friends.

Rewards programs

More recently, retailers have adopted rewards programs that use customer feedback to guide charitable donations.

• There are 350 Clark County nonprofit agencies signed up for Fred Meyer Community Rewards. How it works is a customer links a nonprofit to their Fred Meyer Rewards account and that nonprofit earns donations as the customer shops. Fred Meyer donates a maximum of $625,000 quarterly and $2.5 million annually to organizations in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

Some purchases, such as gift cards and jewelry, don’t count toward Community Rewards.

• Amazon donates 0.5 percent of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to a charitable organization of your choice, and many local organizations have signed on. Customers have to shop at smile.amazon.com, rather than the regular Amazon website. It’s not a lot of moolah. If you buy something that’s $20, that comes out to a 10-cent donation. The merits of Amazon Smile have been debated with critics calling it a form of slacktivism, but if you’re going to be buying off someone’s Amazon wish list anyway, it’s an option.

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Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith