As online shopping heats up for the holidays, several Brownwood-area charities have signed up for AmazonSmile hoping to catch a portion of the proceeds.
    AmazonSmile is an offshoot of the online retail giant that allows online shoppers to support the charity of their choice just by purchasing products on the site. AmazonSmile offers the same selection and prices as its parent website, but donates 0.5 percent of the purchase price to the buyer’s preselected charity.
    Most any 501(c)(3) charitable organization is eligible for support through AmazonSmile. Currently there are many Brownwood charities on the site, including Good Samaritan Ministries, DePelchin Children’s Center, the Brownwood Area Community Garden, the Arts Council of Brownwood, The ARK Domestic Violence Shelter, Lyric Theatre, CASA in the Heart of Texas, Coggin Avenue Baptist Church and the Aldersgate Enrichment Center.
    Wanda Martin runs Brown County Toys for Kids, a charity that donates Christmas presents to local families in need. She said her niece, Audrey Harris, set up her AmazonSmile account.
    “I don’t expect a lot this year because people are just finding out about it,” Martin said, “but I think once they find out about it, they’ll start doing that. This Thanksgiving weekend is so important for them to know.”    
    Thanksgiving weekend, including the so-called Cyber Monday, is one of the busiest online shopping times of the year.
    Martin said putting the charity on AmazonSmile, and collecting the ensuing donations, was a simple process. “My niece just sat down and took care of it one day,” she said. “They’ll just … direct deposit it to the bank.”
    Martin said it could be tricky to remember to use AmazonSmile and not the main Amazon site.  
    Becky Isbell agrees. “I know for me, a lot of times when I buy from Amazon, you have to make sure you log in through the Smile website,” she said. “If you forget to—I know a lot of times I’ve done it, and then gone ‘Oops, I forgot to do it that way.’”
    Isbell is the director at the Brownwood Public Library, which is listed on AmazonSmile as the Carnegie Public Library Association of Brownwood Tex. She said Smile presented a rare opportunity to give back without any additional cost to the buyer or the charity.
    “It’s a great program,” Isbell said. “Amazon really supports nonprofits, so it’s just a matter of remembering to use it and letting people know it’s available.”
    Interested shoppers need to use each time they make a purchase to ensure their selected charity sees the proceeds.