Many people at this time of year are thinking about what they would like to do for others. Our Ownership is no exception, and you are steadfast in showing and sharing your generosity. If you’re looking for ideas, here are a few ways that you can give to the community this holiday season.
Third Annual POP Community Fund Drive In Progress
As we reported last month, the Pantries of Plenty Community Fund Drive is in full swing! You can help prevent hunger in our community by purchasing a $5, $10, or $25 donation card at any Co-op store. One hundred percent of funds donated will be divided evenly and sent to the food pantries our Co-op serves: Goodman Community Center and Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center at East; Lussier Community Education Center and Middleton Outreach Ministry at West; and recently added to the program, Bread of Life Pantry and The River Food Pantry at North. Donation cards make a great pay-it-forward gift for friends and family during the holidays. Just give the card to your cashier to have your donation applied to your grocery receipt. At the time of writing, shoppers had chosen to donate to the POP fund 331 times, making a total of $2,820 in donations so far.
Santas Without Chimneys Are Back!
For three years running we have hosted Autonomous Solidarity’s Santas Without Chimneys (SWC) program, and they are back at all three locations again this year. SWC is an independent, all-volunteer, “ask based,” crowd-sourced and non-faith-based holiday donation drive for homeless and highly mobile children and youth in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). With the assistance of MMSD’s Traditional Education Program and district social workers, SWC seeks to bring cheer and giving, and one of the greatest sources of support for gift donations comes in the form of dropboxes in local businesses. If you are interested, you may bring items such as cozy blankets (no bed comforters); kids’ socks, gloves, mittens, hats and scarves; new hair accessories; teen and pre-teen cosmetics; new or like-new books, or new art supplies to any of our locations and drop them in SWC’s designated dropboxes in the foyers. SWC is also in the process of collecting wishlists from MMSD, and you can find out more about what they are seeking for the kids this year or donate cash at www.santaswithoutchimneys.org.
Community Shares Organizations: CHIP at the Register, Give At Home through Tribute Donations, Volunteering, or Fundraising
There are around 60 local organizations that are members of Community Shares of Wisconsin, the benefactor of our year-round Community CHIP register campaign. Many of these organizations make giving as a tribute to someone else easy: just go to their website and provide the name of the person you are honoring with your gift.Some organizations also provide information about how you can host fundraisers and house parties to support their causes; or how to volunteer, if you decide that maybe the best gift you can give a loved one is the opportunity to go out and do something for the greater good together. For a list of Community Shares members with links to all their websites, visit www.communityshares.com/member-nonprofits.
Gifts with a Local Benefit
Last year at this time, we provided gift ideas that benefit your local community. Here’s a review:
FairShare CSA Coalition: We carry both of their cookbooks — the classic From Asparagus to Zucchini, full of tips to make the most of seasonal and local product; and their newer Farm-Fresh and Fast, a collection of easy recipes using common seasonal produce. We also have some fabulous tea towels that support this local nonprofit dedicated to making Community Supported Agriculture more accessible to all through education, outreach, community-building and resource sharing.
Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy Phenology Calendar (West only): Features local photography and writings and space for phenology observations, nature notes, and other nature facts and data. One hundred percent of the purchase price goes back to the Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy.
Porchlight Products: Made by Porchlight clients using many local ingredients, these products develop job skills, generate revenue for Porchlight programs, and support local growers and suppliers. Consider picking up their rhubarb jam (East and North only), Curtido, Dilly Beans, Multi-Grain Pancake Mix, or Applesauce (North and West only) for your loved ones to enjoy.
Yahara House Note Cards (East and West only): With art produced by members of their clubhouse who are living with mental illness, these cards support building relationships and job skills via a supportive community. One hundred of the purchase price goes back to the Yahara House.
Socially Conscious Brands
We’ve also published within the last two years a list of brands we carry that make commitments to benefiting others. When gift shopping or planning a holiday gathering, consider one of the brands below and what your money might support.
Alaffia (bodycare products): “Alaffia’s success is not simply measured by profit. Our success is measured by empowerment. Empowerment Projects are Alaffia’s mission in action, funded by the sales of Alaffia products. Alaffia invests in our communities because it is our moral responsibility and to ensure African resources empower African communities. The goal is to alleviate poverty and encourage gender equality. Our Empowerment Projects include several Education-Based Projects, Maternal Health, FGM Eradication, Eyeglasses and Reforestation. All of Alaffia’s projects empower Togolese communities to provide their skills and knowledge to the rest of the world and rise out of poverty.” alaffia.com.
Alter Eco (chocolate, quinoa, rice): “Our mission is global transformation through ethical relationships with small-scale farmers, and an integral sustainability orientation at every point on the supply chain.” www.alterecofoods.com.
Ben & Jerry’s (ice cream): “Ben & Jerry’s operates on a three-part mission that aims to create linked prosperity for everyone that’s connected to our business: suppliers, employees, farmers, franchisees, customers, and neighbors alike.” www.benjerry.com.
Co-op Sauce (hot sauce): “Co-op Sauce still donates half of its profits to Co-op Image [a free arts and entrepreneurship organization for Chicago youth] and employs former program participants in the making and sale of the sauce.”coopsauce.com.
Equal Exchange (coffee, chocolate, tea, bananas, nuts): “Equal Exchange’s mission is to build long-term trade partnerships that are economically just and environmentally sound, to foster mutually beneficial relationships between farmers and consumers and to demonstrate, through our success, the contribution of worker co-operatives and Fair Trade to a more equitable, democratic and sustainable world.” equalexchange.coop.
Global Mamas (bodycare products): “The mission of Global Mamas is to create a life of prosperity for African women and their families. We define prosperity as financial well-being, good health, and happiness. We achieve prosperity by creating and selling handmade products of the highest quality.” www.globalmamas.org.
Good and Cheap (cookbook, East and West only): “Good and Cheap is a cookbook for people with very tight budgets, particularly those on SNAP/FoodShare benefits... You buy. We give. For every book you buy, we’ll donate a book to someone who needs it.” www.leannebrown.com.
GROW Bananas (bananas): “GROW aims to provide financial support and services to programs that help build better lifestyles and futures for farm workers and their families.”www.growbananas.org.
Just Coffee (coffee): “Every time we buy something we support the system that was used to get it to us. We want to get you the best tasting cup of coffee imaginable and to transparently show you where it came from, who grew it, and how your choice affects them in a real way. Through a total commitment to complete quality– from the farmer to final cup—we continue to redefine how the coffee industry can work.” justcoffee.coop.
Yumbutter (nut butters): “Every time you buy one jar or pouch of Yumbutter, you help feed a child with malnutrition. We partner closely with a non-profit called Primeros Pasos in Xela, Guatemala to provide holistic care to malnourished children and their mothers. The care we are able provide through your purchase includes: pre-natal supplementation, education on nutrition and sanitation, parasite de-worming medicine, and education for mothers regarding breastfeeding and healthy food choices.” yumbutter.com.
Have a Safe and Warm Holiday Season
However you spend the cold months making your friends, family and selves feel warm and special, we wish you the very best as we bring the calendar year to a close and welcome the New Year. Thank you for being the generous neighbors and community that you are, and for supporting your local businesses, community and Co-op.