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Amazon charity donation program coming to an end

Posted at 5:14 PM, Jan 19, 2023

CLEVELAND — On Wednesday, Amazon announced it will be ending the AmazonSmile program Feb. 20 to focus on giving to programs with a bigger impact.

In 2013, Amazon launched AmazonSmile, so shoppers could shop and support their favorite charities. That includes 6,054 in Cleveland, one of which is Seeds of Literacy.

“So, we do basic education and GED classes for adults,” said Bonnie Entler, president and CEO, Seeds of Literacy.

Entler says they have been a part of the program since 2017.

“Amazon offered an opportunity for nonprofits to get a percentage of their customer sales,” said Entler.

In total, Amazon donated millions of dollars to 1 million organizations globally, but when you break it down a little more the money comes out to a lot less.

“For over these almost six years...oh my gosh, about $1,200 over all of these many, many years,” said Entler.

Which is what Amazon says is leading the company to reroute its dollars, saying the money was "spread too thin.”

For Seeds of Literacy, those funds were a small part of their donations and they can manage without, but for Second Harvest a food bank in in Lorain, a dollar goes a long way.

“It might not be the millions of dollars that you think of, but every single dollar really makes a difference because every dollar we get donated here to our food bank, we can provide five meals,” said Susan Bartosch, VP of external affairs at Second Harvest.

Bartosch says they have been a part of Amazon smile since 2014.

“To date, it's been about just over $1,800 worth of donations in the last eight years,” said Bartosch.

Being a food bank in times of the pandemic than inflation anything they get helps.

“This past year, we've had everything from supply chain issues, we've had to purchase more food...our normal partners and retail partners haven't had as much food to donate,” said Bartosch.

And to add to that, snap benefit will soon return to prepandemic levels, meaning families will soon have even less money to help make ends meet.

But for Bartosch, just like Entler, she is used to adjusting.

“Things change. Everything changes. New programs come and go and there's always something on the horizon,” said Bartosch.

They're grateful for what they have gotten and are excited to see what's next.

“So, in my mind, here in Cleveland, we have a variety of warehouses, so I'm really hoping that the funds do stay local,” said Entler.

Amazon will be giving any organization that's a part of the program three months' worth of donations. The company says it plans to reroute its donations towards building affordable housing and providing access to computer science education.

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