Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Ultimate Cure for Back to School Blues

You know how giving something to others feels so good? And how watching the back to school bills (and piles of stuff) accumulate can feel so, well, not good? This year there are plenty of ways to combat the back to school shopping blues by contributing to charity as you make your purchases. Whether you're finishing up your shopping or have yet to begin, here's how you can do good with your back to school budget.

Smile – Amazon to the Rescue!
Let's face it, even if you're a diehard “mom n' pop” shopper, sometimes online mega-retailers like Amazon simply have the best prices on the products your kids need. With the new Amazon Smile program, you can shop Amazon knowing every dollar you spend makes a difference. Amazon Smile is easy to use and comes with no added fees. Just use as your entrance to the Amazon site and choose a charity to benefit from your purchases. After that, any time you shop via, the Amazon Smile Foundation will donate a portion of your purchase price to your charity of choice.

Disaster Relief One Backpack at a Time
Local disaster recovery non-profit Headwaters Relief Organization has an online store where you can conveniently shop for much-needed supplies like lightweight backpacks, water bottles with fruit flavor infusers and refreezable lunch boxes to keep homemade lunches cool. Headwaters Relief operates out of Golden Valley, MN, and works in the Twin Cities area, nationwide and globally, coming to the aid of victims of natural disaster. Proceeds of every purchase at their online store go directly to providing housing and emotional support to those affected by life-altering events like massive tornadoes, earthquakes and typhoons. And every item showcases the Headwaters Relief logo, so your kids can spread the word about a worthy nearby cause.

Give a Little Extra in Your Area
Even though school has nearly started, several local organizations are still accepting goods and cash donations for children whose parents are struggling to afford the costs of school supplies.

• The Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis maintains a school supply wishlist. For drop-off information, call 612-204-8295.
• The Salvation Army Northern Division invites you to donate money. They'll match your zip code with children in your area so your donation stays close to home.
Kids in Need Foundation will benefit from purchases of select Nordic Natural products. When you buy these products, Nordic Naturals will donate school supplies.
Yoobi produces great school supplies sold at Target and other retailers. Every purchase of a Yoobi item will be matched with a donation of school supplies to children nationwide.
• Boys & Girls Club of America has teamed up with Staples and made it very easy to donate supplies, if you're shopping at Staples for your kids this year. Simply visit your nearby Staples before September 17th to drop off goods. 
• Family & Children’s Service accepts school supplies at their Bloomington, Brooklyn Park and Minneapolis locations.
Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities offers two ways to give. You can donate money to fill backpacks for kids in need or you can drop off supplies at one of their many locations throughout our region.

So there you have it – lots of options to help you feel better about the back to school season. And once you send your kids off to start the year ahead, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you helped prepare less fortunate children for their own school year, too. 

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