Written by Jenn Bachtel & Frances Badgett

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank


It is with the spirit of giving on our minds and in our hearts, that we wish you a very Happy Holiday Season from all of us at North Sound Life!


It’s that time of year—while out rushing around, it’s good to think of those who have less than we do. We’ve compiled a list of carefully chosen causes and good ideas for sharing the spirit of the season.

Giving Trees

Tons of local businesses collect for the underprivileged by way of the annual giving tree. A quick and easy online search can help you find that cause that calls to you this holiday season. We like Village Books’ annual giving tree. With locations in Lynden and Fairhaven, they bring the gift of reading to children in their community. Stop by and choose an angel from the tree and purchase a book for a child in need. You’ll receive 20% off your purchase! Details at villagebooks.com.

Also a favorite of holiday givers, Toys for Tots gives children toys for Christmas who may go without. Haggen, Little Caesars Pizza, Whidbey Island Bank, and Menchies to name just a few, are ready to accept your unwrapped new toy donations. Monetary donations are also accepted.  Learn more at toysfortots.org.

Monetary Donations

No amount of money is ever too small for a nonprofit. You can always give in memory of someone (and most nonprofits will send a notification to the family), or you can send a small amount every month. This gives nonprofits a predictable income over the course of the year to cover expenses. To make things convenient, most nonprofits offer online donation forms, so you don’t even have to leave your couch to help those in need.

Monetary donations are a very important part of any program working to help those in need in the community. Unless they issue a specific request, the American Red Cross has a particular preference for monetary donations over material donations like blankets. You can find the Northwest Washington Red Cross at redcross.org.

Social Services

Helping our community have a stronger social fabric makes it a better community. By supporting those who are vulnerable, we enhance the lives and opportunities of those who might not have them otherwise. We recommend these organizations, though there are so many:

Lydia Place provides support and care for families in crisis. Providing a broad range of services from parenting classes to job skills, they do amazing work for those in need: lydiaplace.org.

The Sean Humphrey House helps those in need who are living with HIV/AIDS or other disabilities. It is the only residential center in Washington State for low-income people living with HIV/AIDS. seanhumphreyhouse.org.

The Opportunity Council has been in operation for 50 years helping those in need with housing, job skills, home energy savings programs, and more. oppco.org.

Supporting the Arts

Whatcom County loves its culture, and there’s no shortage of deserving recipients for our extra dollars. The arts are so often in peril in our schools, and such an important part of our cultural fabric. We recommend these, but there are many more organizations who need donations:

The Whatcom Symphony Orchestra brings amazing quality and talent to audiences every season. whatcomsymphony.com.

Who doesn’t love a rainy afternoon at The Pickford? A great place to settle in with some popcorn, and a unique nonprofit that supports our community with great, challenging, inspiring films. pickfordfilmcenter.org.

Setting Sun Productions is a local theater and media production company that explores tribal history and culture in amazing productions like “Sonny Sixkiller Buys the Washington Redskins” and “What About Our Promises?.” settingsunproductions.org.

The fun folks at Make.Shift are doing great work giving artists exposure and educating youth about art. Their all-ages performances and amazing outreach make them a new go-to for our arts scene. makeshiftproject.com.

With regular shows, lots of great community events, and a terrific staff, Allied Arts deserves your extra ducats this holiday season: alliedarts.org.

Supporting the Military

Military families are hit hard at the holidays, with parents and loved ones in active duty in far-flung places. Ideas for military support range from adopting a military family, to baking goods and sending deployed soldiers care packages via Operation Gratitude. operationgratitude.com.

One program we find pretty awesome is Full Circle Home. This nonprofit is completely volunteer-run. Full Circle Home provides a way for deployed soldiers to send a Christmas gift to their spouse or loved one at home. They accept donations and use the funds to purchase and send gifts such as: spa type gift sets, lotions, bubble baths, etc. The gift includes a message from their deployed soldier. It’s not about the gift, but feeling connected to your soldier who is far from home. fullcirclehome.org.

The Gift of a Warm Meal

We are a diverse collection of foodies here at NSL, so we must include the gift of a warm holiday meal this cold and stormy winter. There is no shortage of local businesses collecting for food drives, or sponsoring programs supporting food banks. In Bellingham, The Little Cheerful Café turns soup kitchen for people needing a warm meal every Monday from 6-7 starting in November all the way through March.  There are volunteer opportunities as well as donations of rain coats, blankets, or other warm clothing accepted for attendees to take with after their hot meal.  133 East Holly Street, Bellingham

Still can’t find your cause? Try your local elementary or high school. There are plenty of schools in need across Washington State fundraising for various programs during the holidays. Giving to a student led, worthy cause is a great way to enhance a child’s school experience this season.

Think of the animals

Finally, we couldn’t claim to Bellingham locals without including ways to give back to our four legged friends. Contacting your local humane society to see how you can help is an easy way to find giving ideas for dogs, cats, and even bunnies in need. Skagit Animals in Need (SAIN) another 100% volunteer run, non profit is needing some attention this year. They are seeking donations to help cover vet bills, grain, & hay costs for the horses they rescue. You can donate online or contact for volunteer opportunities at skagitanimalsinneed.org.

Another great giving idea is for our local wildlife lovers. Try Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehab Center on Friday Harbor.  They provide a full range of ways to give including donations, volunteer opportunities, and adoptions for animals in need. Wolfhollowwildlife.org.

The Alternative Humane Society provides adoption services, foster homes, vet care, and more for abandoned animals. They have no shelter, no paid staff, and rely heavily on donations. Alternativehumanesociety.com.

The Brigadoon Service Dogs raises, trains, and provides (sometimes for free) service dogs for the disabled. Their costs are high, and the benefit they provide to people is even bigger. Brigadoondogs.com.

However you choose to give this holiday season, Gandhi said it best…. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”