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Gifts for Organizations Making a Difference 

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It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and warm nostalgia of Christmastime, forgetting to look past the mall Santas and fake greenery to the underlying meaning of the season — giving to those who have so little. Instead of stressing over how to budget all the big-ticket items for everyone on your list, consider a gift to a nonprofit in a loved one's name. Or, make the leap and nix gifts for your family altogether in lieu of a group donation to a local charitable organization. It can be really fun and personally fulfilling to go on a shopping spree knowing the people you're buying for really need, rather than want, what you're getting. Here's just some of the items on local nonprofits' wish lists this year.

CROSSWALK TEEN SHELTER

Head to a local craft supply store (perhaps Spokane Art Supply, 1303 N. Monroe) and load up a shopping basket full of acrylic paint, canvases, pastels, watercolors, drawing pencils and art paper. Serving more than a thousand teens each year, the downtown Spokane drop-in shelter Crosswalk offers basic support and services, along with activities to encourage creativity and to serve as an escape from the harsh realities of homelessness, abuse and other life-altering conflicts its teens face. Crosswalk, operated by Volunteers of America, hosts art classes at least once a month, and largely relies on donated supplies in order to do so. Crosswalk Teen Shelter • 525 W. Second • voaspokane.org • 624-2275

THE ARC OF SPOKANE

This local nonprofit offers a long list of programs and services to improve the quality of life for developmentally disabled individuals and their families across the Inland Northwest. As you're out shopping for the rest of your giftees, consider picking up a few fun things for the Arc's Community Center, which offers daily activities such as crafts, games, classes and field trips to the developmentally disabled adults it serves. The center currently is in need of a new DVD or Blu-ray player, Wii remotes, pool sticks and balls, puzzles and family-friendly DVDs. The Arc of Spokane • 320 E. Second • arc-spokane.org • 328-6326

CATHOLIC CHARITIES SPOKANE

Serving more than 77,000 people across the region every year, Catholic Charities is one of the largest social service nonprofits in the area, offering a dozen programs that aid the homeless, seniors, families and anyone else in need. Development officer Dennis Hake says a donation — he suggests one made in the name of a loved one — to its annual Christmas Collection campaign is the best way to help, aside from volunteering one's time. Funds are also dangerously low for Catholic Charities' Emergency Services Fund, which helps people on the brink of having their heating or water shut off, losing transportation to a job, or in need of basic shelter. Catholic Charities Spokane • 12 E. Fifth • catholiccharitiesspokane.org • 358-4250

HUTTON SETTLEMENT

Founded nearly a century ago, the Hutton Settlement sits on a picturesque 300 acres in Spokane Valley, providing a stable home for children needing long-term care. Community relations director Kelly Green says an ideal gift for the Hutton's residents is a group activity for a cottage of eight children to enjoy together. Tickets to Silverwood, a local bowling alley or the Mobius Science Center all offer an opportunity for cottage residents (ages 5-18) to get out and bond together. Hutton Settlement • 9907 E. Wellesley • huttonsettlement.org • 838-2789

HOSPICE OF SPOKANE

Hospice of Spokane provides end-of-life care and support to patients of all ages with a terminal condition and their families. During the holidays, development director Tamitha Anderson suggests contacting the organization to participate in its Adopt a Family program, which supports patients and families facing financial hardships and who are consumed with caring for their sick loved one. Donated, handmade quilts and blankets are also used at the Hospice House to provide some cheer and comfort to its patients. Hospice of Spokane • 121 S. Arthur • hospiceofspokane.org • 456-0438

TRANSITIONS FOR WOMEN

Offering job training, housing and life skills programs, Transitions helps Spokane's homeless and impoverished women and their children attain happier and more sustainable lives. Development director Mary Tracey says bedding sets of any size are ideal gift items the organization can give to women and children moving into transitional housing. "When they move into housing, they go to us to turn their house into a home," Tracey says. Bus passes and thumb drives are also always needed for women going back to school or looking for employment. Transitions • 3104 W. Fort George Wright Dr. • help4women.org • 325-9877 

SPOKANE HUMANE SOCIETY

For those with a soft spot in their hearts for all the animals waiting for homes in the Inland Northwest's several animal shelters, a gift of pet supplies, food or bedding can make the holidays a little cozier for a homeless kitty or pup. It's a great way to say thanks to the shelter where you adopted your own furry friend, too. The Spokane Humane Society has a detailed wish list on its website, along with an Amazon.com wish list of preselected items the shelter would put to good use — shop online and have your gifts shipped directly there. Spokane Humane Society • 6607 N. Havana • spokanehumanesociety.org • 467-5235

YMCA/YWCA OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST

The Central Spokane YMCA's Teen Center serves as a safe haven for many teens in Spokane's West Central neighborhood. "Things they need are even some of the most basic — toiletries and bus passes" says Julie Banks, the Y's community development director. Gift cards would also brighten these kids' Christmases, to spend on healthy food (sandwich shops or cafes instead of fast food), popular young adult books and even clothing. Banks says the center regularly receives new, donated clothing for teen boys, but not as much for girls. Zip-up hooded sweatshirts, super-popular infinity scarves, nail polish and socks are ideal gift items for teen girls. Central YMCA • 930 N. Monroe • ymcaspokane.org • 777-9622

THE SALVATION ARMY

If you want to do more than dropping your pocket change or $5 into one of the Salvation Army's iconic red kettles, consider buying Christmas gifts for a family staying at the organization's Spokane campus. Each Christmas, the local arm of the national nonprofit hosts its Adopt a Family program, asking for specific requests from the families it serves. Call the main office to find out what's left on this year's wish list. Salvation Army Spokane • 222 E. Indiana • salvationarmyspokane.org • 329-2732

BOY & GIRLS CLUBS OF SPOKANE COUNTY

The three branches of the Boys & Girls Clubs serve disadvantaged youth across Spokane County, providing educational support and programs, recreation, arts activities, and simply a safe place kids can hang out after school. Some enrichment items the clubs have on their wish lists this year include Xbox game consoles and controllers, a foosball table, butcher paper, poster frames, pool cues and balls and any kind of sports balls — rubber, basketballs, soccer — you name it. Boys & Girls Clubs of Spokane County • three branches: Mead, Northtown and East Central • bgcspokanecounty.org • 489-0741

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