Caring for Animals 

Four-legged friends need extra love this time of year, especially when the weather gets cold. Purchase a Happy Tails calendar to directly support the Whatcom Humane Society, or shop for pre-loved Christmas gifts at the thrift store benefiting Humane Society of Skagit Valley. 

Beyond domestic animals, Because We Matter advocates for animal stewardship and environmental education, and they also function as an exotic animal rescue. Animals as Natural Therapy supports mental and behavioral health through connection with animals, and they emphasize serving veterans and youth in particular. Both organizations accept donations online! 

Because We Matter, photo by Zach Moffat

Patronizing the Arts 

Encouraging local artists means supporting the culture of your entire community– and if you’re looking for a good place to start, know that it’s never a bad time to become a member of the Whatcom Museum or Museum of Northwest Art. 

Bellingham Symphony Orchestra, photo by Damian Vines Photography

For the musically inclined, Kulshan Chorus, the Bellingham Symphony Orchestra, and Skagit Symphony are all organizations worth supporting. Alternatively, if live entertainment is more your style, consider donating to local organizations like the Bellingham Theatre Guild, Anacortes Community Theatre, and San Juan Community Theatre. You can even support students’ access to the arts by helping to fund an educational scholarship with Mount Baker Theatre. 

Bellingham Theatre Guild, photo by Shannon Finn

The Bellingham Makerspace is both a nonprofit and community workshop space, and if you’ve ever used their tools, consider making a donation to keep them up and running. Lastly, Make.Shift is a Bellingham-based art space that offers a variety of shows and workshops to the community. You can help them continue their mission by becoming a member of their Patreon. 

Bellingham Makerspace, photo by Tony Mueantonthian

Supporting the Next Generation 

Skookum Kids’ mission is to help children in the foster care system by involving entire communities, and they offer volunteer opportunities ranging from mentorship to support groups and work at their emergency shelters. Blue Skies for Children supports homeless, low-income, and foster children in Whatcom and Skagit Counties, whereas Northwest Youth Services serves youth ages 13-24 experiencing homelessness in the same region.  

Vamos Outdoors Project is a Bellingham-based nonprofit providing environmental education, outdoor recreation opportunities, and mentorship to Latinx youth. They accept donations and provide volunteer opportunities, particularly for individuals who are bilingual in English and Spanish. 

Vamos Outdoors Project, courtesy of Vamos Outdoors Project

While the aforementioned organizations need year-round support, you can make a kid’s Christmas by donating toys to the Community Toy Store, a holiday gift assistance program based in Blaine. Additionally, Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army both accept toy donations, whereas the Interfaith Coalition has a variety of holiday outreach efforts. These include their Holiday Joy sponsorship program, winter coat drive, and Project Warm-up (wherein volunteers knit hats, scarves, and blankets to be donated to various social service agencies). 

Interfaith Coalition, photo by Hailey Hoffman.

This is an excerpt from our November/December feature, Classic Christmas. Read the previously posted excerpt here.