Boise, Idaho -- The struggling economy has many people cutting back on their spending. But that doesn't mean you have to forget about helping out local charities.
When finances are tight, it's important to make every dollar count; and with some smart shopping you can, by making your Christmas purchases give twice.
One way to do it is to buy unique "fair trade" gifts, handmade in some of the world's poorest areas.
"Ten Thousand Villages is an international job creation program and what we do is we work with folks in Asia, Africa and Latin America that are unemployed or under employed," said Anna Wulfsong-Belt, the Executive Director of Ten Thousand Villages.
But you can also do a good deed while spending your dollars at stores like Wal-Mart, Kohl's and Best Buy. They and more than 700 other top retailers have joined with the charity GoodShop.com.
"Here's how it works, it's really simple. You simply go to GoodShop.com, you designate the charity you want to support and then you click over to the retailer you want to shop at," said J.J. Ramberg, the co-founder of GoodShop.com
A percentage of what you spend goes back to the charity of your choice.
Plus, if you need to search for some hard to find presents, just use GoodShop's sister site, GoodSearch.com, to continue raising money.
"Good search is a search engine that's powered by Yahoo that you use exactly as you would any other search engine, but every time you do a search a penny goes to your favorite charity," said Ramberg.
Dozens of different Treasure Valley non-profits have signed up with the service.
Just by shopping or searching, you can support the Boise Rescue Mission, the Arc, Ten Thousand Villages, and many more.
"We just got a check from GoodSearch, that was a really nice surprise," said Wulfsong-Belt.
"We're really grateful to GoodSearch.com and GoodShop.com for helping non profit agencies like the Rescue Mission and other non-profits," said Bill Roscoe, with the Boise Rescue Mission.
More families than ever need a hand this holiday season, and the extra cash helps make sure they get one.
"All of us have felt the impact of the economy in some way, shape or form. And, I think it has really stirred people up to say there re people hurting and I'm not hurting as much as they are so I want to help and do something for those people," said Roscoe.
Another great holiday gift idea that also helps out the community is giving a donation in someone's name.
You can do that locally through the Boise Rescue Mission's homepage or nationally through www.charitygiftcertificates.org.
To visit GoodShop or GoodSearch for to www.goodsearch.com/goodshop.aspx or www.goodsearch.com