Gift-Giving Alternatives: A Second Helping

By Gary Weaver

oldmillcenter2Our first offering of gift-giving alternatives was a hit in our socially minded community and as predicted, we received some emails about worthy charitable organizations we missed out on.

We Care

We Care is an interfaith partnership of 20 faith communities including Beit Am, Bahá’í, and Mennonites, operating for over 30 years in Benton County.

We Care provides one-time financial assistance to residents of Benton County in emergency situations when no other help is available from either public or private sources. A Community Services Consortium (CSC) employee screens all requests and checks are made out to the provider (utility company, landlord, etc.), not to the person receiving assistance. The partnership with CSC provides oversight, discourages duplication, waste, and fraud, and encourages long- term solutions. Basically, it ensures that contributed funds are used for the most urgent needs.

You can learn more about We Care’s work at

Old Mill Center for Children and Families

Old Mill Center offers a continuum of services focusing on family-centered early education, therapeutic intervention, counseling, and parent support for children and their families. The Center serves over 1,400 clients (children aged 18 and younger and their families) in their programs which include integrated preschool, Healthy Families supporting first-time parents, Intensive Treatment Services for ages 3 to 6, the Relief Nursery outreach for children aged 6 and younger who suffer from child abuse or neglect, and child and family counseling for adolescents. 

Their goal is to help the child and their family as a whole become self-sustaining members of the community who can contribute to their futures. For more information or to donate to Old Mill Center for Children, visit

Self Protection, Advocacy and Rights Counsel (SPARC)

The Self Protection, Advocacy and Rights Council (SPARC) is a self-advocacy group made up of people with developmental disabilities. SPARC members share a vision to change the way people with disabilities are seen by society.

They are currently fundraising for their biennial Summit on Empowerment, Enrichment & Diversity (SEED), an event scheduled for September 2015 that includes hands-on discovery, people-friendly learning, great entertainment, and fun workshops.

SPARC’s other work includes helping other communities’ local self-advocacy groups and organizing annual food and toy drives. Learn more and make a financial contribution at

Mary’s River Gleaners

Mary’s River Gleaners is one of 14 gleaning groups in Linn and Benton counties. They consist of over 795 members who gather donated food from farmers, backyard growers, grocers, and other sources in the local community. Last year, Mary’s River Gleaners helped redirect more than 225,000 pounds of unsold food to more than 900 individuals, 75% of whom are elderly and/or disabled.

You can follow and support Mary’s River Gleaners through their Facebook page: