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Season of giving

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The holidays are here! The holidays are here!

There are more ways to give than you may think

Editor's Note: Wire reports contributed to this story

The dichotomy of hordes of people clamoring to buy things the day after giving thanks has not been lost on the internet. Do a Google image search for Black Friday memes. I'll wait. Pretty funny stuff, except for that one really inappropriate image (sorry about that).

But this season is all about giving, not simply about buying things and there are many incredible ways to give. Here are a few options that are open to you.

United Way and Buffalo Wild Wings team up

On Dec. 11, bring a ticket to Buffalo Wild Wings and 15 percent of your food purchase will go to support United Way of Eastern Maine. It's a fun way to raise money and eat some delicious wings at the same time. The money goes towards the Community Fund, which is then used to fund area agencies, run initiatives and recruit for United Way.

'It's how we get the biggest return on every dollar. For every $1 [donated] we can give $4.50 back to the community,' said Kristen Sprague, the resource development manager for United Way of Eastern Maine.

The Dec. 11 event is congruent with a Sam Adams beer tasting and a raffle. In order to participate, you need to visit the United Way's website and print off tickets (though Sprague said just mentioning the 15 percent donation would trigger the donation, having the ticket is best).

And if you miss this chance to donate to the United Way, there are other ways you can help.

'One of our biggest platforms is through the workplace campaign which isn't traditional for workplaces around here but some people do payroll deductions right out of their [pay]check,' said Sprague. 'We make it easy to give to other organizations by pledging to us and you can designate any agency in our area.'

For more information, visit http://www.unitedwayem.org/.

Shopping for 100 kids

The Rock Church of Greater Bangor has teamed up with Penquis and Target to shop for approximately 100 children this Christmas season. On Dec. 7, an organized team of shoppers will descend upon Target and start making Christmas bright for less fortunate kids.

'We're taking donations from anyone. We have $35 per child,' said Cindy Lavertu, who is organizing the event. 'We head to Target at 10 a.m., (who provides food for all the shoppers) and we shop. We try to get three gifts for each child and try to stretch that $35 as far as it will go and take advantage of any and all sales.'

Lavertu said they are on the lookout for many necessities, including diapers, coats and boots, and they try to include one toy per child. The shoppers each wear a Santa hat with 'The Rock Church' written in glitter, and all the Target workers are on the lookout and willing to help with anything the shoppers need, Lavertu said.

'We have it very organized,' she said. Each bag is kept separate and numbered, and after the presents are wrapped they are labelled again. 'If we have 100 kids, that's 300 presents. We wrap them up, let [the congregation] see them under the tree, and then we deliver them wrapped to Penquis who disperses them to needy families.'

So, since the shopping is already in the bag (har har), how can you help? The Church is always on the lookout for donations and have generously extended the event until Dec. 5 (which is Thursday, aka the day after we print). They are all set with shoppers, but if you want to help with wrapping presents, you are welcome. So if you wish to help with this fun and worthy cause, contact  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . 

Give blood

Blood saves lives. One pint of blood can save three lives, and there is a perennial shortage of it no matter what the season. Typically it takes less than an hour for everything, including paperwork, blood draw and recovery time. 

And you get cookies. This is a wonderful, tangible way to give to the community, even if you don't have a lot of money.

But say you don't like needles. I get it, I'm not a huge fan of that part of the procedure - but you can still help. The website suggest donations, fundraising, hosting a blood drive, taking, teaching or hosting a class, volunteering, getting involved with a group or a program or advocating for them.

You can check it out at redcross.org.

Toys for Tots

The United States Marine Corps has a reputation for a fierce dedication to their country. But they also have a soft spot for children. Toys for Tots is a program that helps supplement toys for families in need at Christmas time, and have been doing so since 1947.

There are toy drop off sites located all over the state. One of the ways you can help is by becoming a toy-drop site for Toys for Tots. Donating toys is easy; they need to be new, in their packaging and not wrapped. The only items that aren't accepted are food products or toys shaped like weapons - neither will be dispersed if donated.

For more information on how you can help, visit http://bangor-me.toysfortots.org.

Final year for 8x10x100 Benefit Art Sale at the Harlow Gallery

You're invited to attend the Harlow Gallery's final 8x10x100 Benefit Art Sale on Dec. 6 from 5 to 8 p.m. in Hallowell. Admission is free, with refreshments provided by Rachel's Catering of Hallowell. 

There will be a brief preview period from 5 to 5:30 p.m. in which no work will be sold, but buyers may tag work they are interested in in purchasing. At 5:30, work tagged by more than one buyer will be open to silent bidding until 6. Everything else can be purchased off the wall as of 5:30.

8x10x100 has been a unique annual art show and fundraiser benefiting programming at the non-profit Harlow Gallery since 2007. Participating artists range from well-known professional artists and members of the KVAA to creative members of the greater community of all ages. All the works of art are 8'x10' in size, and each costs just $100. Half of the proceeds support programming at the Harlow Gallery, while the other half goes to the artist. It's a triple win: for the artist, for the gallery and for the art collector!

8x10x100 will be on view from Dec. 6 until 28. Gallery hours are Wednesday and Saturday noon to 6 p.m. and Thursday and Friday noon to 8 p.m.  

Be an angel for the Salvation Army

Each year the Salvation Army launches its Angel Tree program, which provides Christmas for 1,500 Bangor-area children. But they need help to do it. 

'Each year, there are families who need a little extra help providing Christmas gifts for their children,' said Captain Tim Clark, corps officer of the Bangor Salvation Army in a press release. 'Through our Angel Tree at the Bangor Mall, individuals and groups from throughout the community are able to provide for these children. It is a way to connect those who need help with those who want to lend a hand, providing an opportunity for people to give back to the community in a very practical sense.'

Angels are given a tag with the basic information about the child whose family sought assistance, including age, gender and a wish list of toys or other kinds of gifts like clothing. The angel buys the gift and returns it to the tree at the Bangor Mall. The Salvation Army then gives the gift to the family on Christmas morning.

'We still have families signing up for Christmas assistance,' said Clark. 'There are families who have never asked for help before, and we want to come alongside them to help provide gifts for their children.'

Last year, The Salvation Army helped nearly 600 families, and they expect at least that number again this year. 'Many families find it challenging to meet the basic needs, such as groceries, rent and utilities, and so face tough choices when it comes to providing extras for their children at Christmas,' said Captain Clark. 'We've seen a good number of people this year who have signed up for the first time because they have had difficulty finding full-time jobs to support their families or because of layoffs, which have stretched their resources to the limit.'

There is still time for families in need of assistance to sign up by calling The Salvation Army offices at 941-2990 to make an appointment.

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