When your shopping dollars are spent locally, you help support local events and initiatives.

FILE PHOTO - The Hawthorne Street Fair is an example of what shopping locally looks like.OK, first things first. Let's all agree to eat until we can't move on Thanksgiving.

Sounds like a good plan.

Then for those who are adventurous enough to break out the credit card on Black Friday, we'd like to ask that you make a commitment this year to shop local as much as possible.

East Multnomah County is blessed with amazing places to shop — Historic Downtown Gresham, Historic Downtown Troutdale, and plenty of other locally owned an operated retail shops in between.

We want our readers to consider the important contributions these local business make to improving the livability of communities and neighborhoods.

Just consider for a moment that 870,000 pounds of food was delivered to SnowCap Community Charities in 2016 through the volunteer Fill-A-Bag program, which was largely driven by volunteers from local businesses.

The annual Teddy Bear Parade, put on by the Gresham Soroptimists, raised more than $25,000 this year, largely through business sponsorships. These dollars are used to fund scholarships at Mt. Hood Community College for young women who are working to make better lives for themselves and their children.

And you've got business groups, like the East Metro Association Realtors (EMAR), which raises money every year to splurge on college scholarships for local students.

You have the West Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce and the Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce, which schedule great community events, such as the Fall Festival of the Arts in Troutdale, and last year's Sunday Parkway event in Gresham.

This list barely scratches the surface of local events and fundraising efforts that would never happen if not for the support of local businesses.

When your shopping dollars are spent locally, you help support these local events and initiatives. And when you spend your dollars at national retailers and online, you surrender your opportunity to make your spending "matter."

According to Local First Arizona, when consumers shop with national chains, a mere 13 percent of those dollars return to the local economy, and virtually none of those dollars are spent on local charitable giving.

But when those dollars are spent at independent, local retail shops, the return to the community climbs to 52 percent in the form of profits and payroll, purchasing and charitable giving.

And while we know it would be naive to suggest that you should go cold turkey with online shopping, it's also fair to point out that online shopping is crippling locally owned retailers. In turn, your purchasing decision is crippling your community.

OK, so eat up on Thanksgiving, then make a conscious decision that your holiday shopping will make a difference in your community.

Now, will someone please pass the stuffing.

Contract Publishing

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