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Checking out at the Canton Price Chopper. Photo: Nora Flaherty
Checking out at the Canton Price Chopper. Photo: Nora Flaherty

Where your money goes when you give at the store

The holidays are a very big time for charitable giving, and that means when you're out shopping, you may be called upon to donate at the register. But if you're feeling charitable and you make that donation, where exactly does the money go - and just how local is "local?" Not surprisingly, it depends on where you drop your coins.

Price Chopper and Stewart's Shops are two major chains in our area that do holiday charitable drives, and they offer very different takes on how your local donation stays local.

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Nora Flaherty
Digital Editor, News

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Price Chopper: Giving to an organization that gives back locally

Schenectady-based Price Chopper's Check Out Hunger drive (which runs through this Saturday, December 14) benefits "your local food bank" and asks customers to either round up their bill to the nearest dollar, or buy a food "packet" valued at $5, $10, or $15.

But that money doesn't necessarily stay in our immediate area: For example, in much of the North Country, it goes to the Food Bank of Central New York in Syracuse, where it becomes part of the organization's budget. "We use those funds for the work we do every single day," says Lynn Hy, director of philanthropy for the food bank. "It's the acquisition and distribution of nutritious food; it's nutrition education that we offer out in the emergency food network at our member programs; and it's advocacy around hunger issues in our 11-county service area." (If you click on the counties in the just-linked map, by the way, they'll show lists of every pantry that gets food from Food Bank of Central New York.)

A volunteer unloads packages at the Potsdam Neighborhood Center. It's one of the organizations that receives help from both the Stewart's Shops and Price Chopper programs. File Photo: Zach Hirsch
A volunteer unloads packages at the Potsdam Neighborhood Center. It's one of the organizations that receives help from both the Stewart's Shops and Price Chopper programs. File Photo: Zach Hirsch
So while your money goes to fight hunger, only some of it will make it back to local organizations like, in St. Lawrence County, Neighborhood Centers in Canton, Gouverneur, Massena, Ogdensburg and Potsdam.

When you buy a food "packet", it follows a similar route, Hy says: "Once they've tallied up all the food packages that have been donated, they'll send us cases of food here to the food bank, we get those cases of food here, put them in our inventory." Organizations like the neighborhood centers that work with the food bank can then order those foods.

Stewart's Shops: Keeping track and keeping money local

The Saratoga Springs-based Stewart's Shops takes a more granular approach to distributing the money it collects during the holidays. The company's Holiday Match campaign (going now through Christmas day) collects donations from the public, and matches them, to benefit various not-for-profit organizations that do work benefiting children (here's a list, by county, of the charities they gave to last year.)

They don't announce the organizations they'll be giving to until spring, so when you give to the Holiday Match Campaign there's no way to know exactly who will get your money. But you can know they'll be local, says spokeswoman Maria D'Amelia: "We track where the money is collected, so we will try to keep the money in the communities where that money is raised." 

The company keeps track by store of how much money comes in, and then distributes it by county. So if you give in St. Lawrence County, a St. Lawrence County organization (like a library or a neighborhood center, for example) is getting your money. That ways, says Stewart's spokeswoman Maria D'Amelia, "it really is impacting people that might be your neighbors."

It's worth noting that while the methodology is different, many of the same organizations receive funding from the Stewart's and Price Chopper programs.

 

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