Let’s say you’ve got a pie shop with a mouthwatering strawberry rhubarb. Another pie place boasts equally tasty treats, but donates funds to fix Bend trails. Where do you buy your pie?
It’s not a trick question, and if you’re part of an ever-growing group of Americans aiming to do good when you open your wallet, you already have an answer. That’s why it’s worth knowing which Bend businesses have a heart for helping our community, planet, and pet causes.
Bend boasts dozens of shops and restaurants supporting everything from animal welfare to needy families. The list below is just a small fraction, and I’d love to hear about your faves!
Nestled in historic Downtown Bend, locally-owned Bellatazza Coffee is one of the first businesses to act when there’s a community need. Water for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs? They not only collect and store donations, but deploy time and resources to drive those donations to folks who need them. Otter Pops for houseless neighbors during a heatwave? They’re on it! You can follow their Facebook page to keep tabs on what causes they’re rallying behind. You can also learn more when you swing by for coffee and something tasty from their bakery case.
The Element Hotel
A relative newcomer to Bend’s lodging scene, the Element Hotel has eco-friendly practices baked right into their brand, from carpets made with 100% recycled content to a fleet of freebie rental bikes aimed at reducing cars on the road. But it’s their partnership with our Pledge for the Wild program that warms the cockles of my heart. Guests who book the Element’s Pledge for the Wild package receive a copy of the Bend photo book Ineffable and two reusable mugs, plus the Element will make a $20 donation to the Bend Sustainability Fund for each night of your stay. Basically, you’re protecting Bend’s wild places by sleeping, which sounds like an awesome form of philanthropy to me.
In my 11 years working for Visit Bend, I’ve tried every outing on the Wanderlust Tours roster, from caving to kayaking to brewery visits. While their knowledge and exceptional service make each tour magical, it’s the company’s heart that gives me warm fuzzies. Voluntourism is a biggie, and they’re constantly organizing cleanups at the Cascade Lakes and lava caves. Their commitment to sustainability is admirable, and so is their commitment to donating a portion of the proceeds from most tours to Pledge for the Wild. When you’re booking online, they make it easy to add a copy of Ineffable to your cart. Proceeds of that sale also go to Pledge for the Wild, so you’re getting a great Bend photo book and helping Bend’s wild places. Ten out of ten, highly recommend.
Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe
Another tour operator with a social conscience, Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe isn’t just your go-to spot for float tubes and kayak lessons. They’re also generous with community contributions. Recently, they partnered with the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council (UDWC) to help fund restoration, education, and stewardship projects along a popular stretch of the Deschutes River. By pledging $1 from each of their float tube rentals, Tumalo Creek expects to raise more than $30,000 this year for UDWC’s restoration efforts. In past years, their Pickin’ and Paddlin’ summer concert series raised funds for the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance, another example of a company committed to tending the places where they work and play.
Lotsa Bend thrift stores
Thrift store shopping is one of my favorite Bend activities that doesn’t involve hiking or paddling, and I’ll cheerfully admit 90% of my wardrobe originated in a Bend thrift store. As an added bonus, many of them support groups doing good work in the community. ReGroup (my personal fave) raises funds for Partners in Care Home Health and Hospice, along with other local nonprofits including Bend Spay & Neuter and Together for Children. The Teen Challenge Thrift Store (the origin of the dress I’m currently wearing!) provides training opportunities for student employees to help them get jobs upon graduation. They also raise funds to provide recovery services for individuals struggling with life-controlling promises. You can probably guess what the Humane Society Thrift Store supports, and there are plenty of other great thrift store stops listed here with a charity-focused mission.
Crux Fermentation Project
Big hearts and a small brewery. That sums up Crux Fermentation Project in a nutshell. They have a reputation for donating to local organizations ranging from Deschutes County Search and Rescue to the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance, and you can get in on the action, too. Their tasty hoppy golden ale Lawn Party makes the perfect summer sipper, and for every pint of it they sell, they’ll donate $1 to Pledge for the Wild. When you’re drinking beer for a good cause, go ahead and order another round.
Another brewery with a huge heart is Worthy Brewing. They’re so into charitable efforts that there’s a header on their website for “causes.” There, you’ll learn about everything from their Charity Pint Night to Operation Johnny Appleseed, which aims to plant a million trees on burned land across Oregon. Worthy even boasts their own 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Worthy Garden Club, comprised of business owners, entrepreneurs, energy specialists, agriculturists, scientists, and astronomers working together to teach the community to respect and protect the beauty of our planet. Between that and their on-site gardens producing much of their summer produce, it’s clear Worthy has our environment’s best interest at heart.
Besides boasting some of Bend’s tastiest cuisine and a chef who’s frequently a finalist for the prestigious James Beard Award, 5 Fusion has a passion for giving back to the community. Since their inception in 2009, they’ve donated nearly half-a-million bucks to local charities including KIDS Center, Saving Grace, The Tower Theatre, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Oregon, the Ronald McDonald House, Deschutes Children’s Foundation, Abilitree, Volunteers in Medicine, and more. Watch their website for their Charity Dinner Series, which will hopefully be back on track in a post-pandemic world. In the meantime, make it a point to dine there to ensure this locally-owned eatery stays strong.
Based in Bend with a boutique on Empire Ave., Nashelle doesn’t just make jewelry. Their creations are wearable art designed to elevate your style. Besides that, they donate a plate of food to local and national charities anytime you purchase a piece of jewelry. Visit their Old Mill boutique on Fridays for their 5 Plate Friday Flash Sale where a specific item is 40% off and five plates of food will be donated with each purchase.
Since Bend brims with year-round events, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention at least a couple. Bend’s annual Oktoberfest features tons of fun events from feats of strength to silly games. But it’s the popular Weiner Dog Race earns praise for its fundraising backbone. The event benefits the Humane Society of Central Oregon, which also works on the race to tend the little athletes. Mark your calendar for Sept. 24, 2021 to catch the races, or just block off the whole week of Sept. 18-25 for Oktoberfest activities.
Pine Mountain Sports
If you’re searching for outdoor gear and rentals, you can’t go wrong with Pine Mountain Sports. Not only do they have an awesome selection of gear, but a Community Ambassador program aimed at supporting a single local charity through PR and fundraising each year. Their goal is to create 200 ambassadors who each pledge a direct donation to the year’s designated nonprofit. For 2021, they’re supporting Family Kitchen in providing free meals for families in need. Learn more about becoming a Community Ambassador here. You can also donate to a variety of great causes like their annual Winter Coat and Sleeping Bag Drive for the Bethlehem Inn.
The Empty Bowls fundraiser
I’ll qualify this one by saying the 2021 Empty Bowls event has not been announced as of this writing. The pandemic turned the 2020 fundraiser into a virtual event, but I’m crossing my fingers it’ll return to normal this year because it’s one of my favorites. Attendees purchase tickets to a soup luncheon served in beautiful handcrafted bowls made by local potters. Proceeds from the event support NeighborImpact’s food bank, which distributes more than three million pounds of food annually to 55 food sites throughout Central Oregon. Keep your eyes on this page for announcements about the next event, and act quickly when tickets go on sale, since they typically sell out. When you get a slot, hop in line early so you’ll have first pick of all the pretty bowls. The ones I’ve gathered over the years are some of my most treasured dishware, and it’s a fun family activity that normally happens right when chilly weather makes soup sound heavenly.
Yep, Patagonia is a big international brand. But their passion for charity is well-documented, and the shop in Downtown Bend is locally-owned. Check out the Patagonia Action Works program to learn how they’re connecting individuals directly with the grassroots groups focused on environmental action. Locally, the Bend Patagonia store supports the Deschutes Land Trust, the Oregon Natural Desert Association, the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance, and Oregon Wild, which is an outstanding group of nonprofits geared toward protecting and preserving the places where you’re likely to don Patagonia gear. Win/win!