Round Up For Change turns coins into big donations

Spare change turns into a 9K giveaway by Good Tern Co-op

Fri, 01/22/2021 - 11:30am

    ROCKLAND—Hundreds of customers of Rockland’s Good Tern Co-op going about their daily shopping in 2020 managed to pull off a hefty contribution to Maine’s nonprofits and organizations, simply by rounding up the change on a purchased item.

    Good Tern’s “Round Up For Change” program gave customers the option to round up to the nearest dollar on a purchase or make an outright donation. After one year, that amount was donated to local charities. In 2020, Good Tern was able to donate $9,047 to 16 charities.

    “We started this program around five years ago,” said Elissa Bower, the Good Tern Education and Outreach Coordinator. “A number of other co-ops around Maine also do this program. It’s a great way to donate and barely takes any energy.” 

    Members of  Good Tern Co-op were able to nominate which Maine organization they wanted to donate to and the staff voted on the final choice. Due to the COVID-19 virus shutting down many establishments last spring, the pandemic impacted the store when it had to close down in April and May.

    “We weren’t able to give back to Misfits Rehab and Peace Ridge Sanctuary as we wanted, so we’re going to add them to our 2021 roster,” said Bower.

    2021 recipients for Round Up For Change

    January  - Maine Wabanaki REACH

    February - Marine Mammals of Maine

    March - Maine Needs

    April - Community Investors of Knox County

    May - Black-Owned Maine

    June - Sundog Outdoor Expeditions

    July - Misfits Rehab

    August - Peace Ridge Sanctuary

    September - Scholarships for Maine Immigrants

    October - George’s River Land Trust

    November - NAACP Maine

    December - Avian Haven

     In 2019, donations totaled over $11,000, according to Bower, but 2020’s totals were fewer, due to the pandemic’s interruption to the program. As soon as Good Tern was able to re-open again, the program renewed with vigor.

    “In July, we decided to give the round-up money to two organizations per month for the rest of the year,” said Bower. “After the death of George Floyd, [a 46-year-old Black man, who was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, while being arrested] and in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, we tried to focus on organizations that support Indigenous, Black, and people of color in our state.”

    Some of those organizations included Cultivating Community, Somali Bantu Community Association, Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project of Maine, and ACLU of Maine.

    In a statement Bower wrote to Good Tern members on why the staff chose certain non-profit organizations, she said, “We continue to reflect on who we are as an organization and ways to further our commitment to the cooperative values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equity, equality, and solidarity.”\

    “I know a lot of the organizations that we round up to are extremely grateful that they’ve been chosen and by the end of the year, when you see how much it ends up being, it’s clear those ten cent donations, or in some cases, outright dollar donations, really add up.”

    For more information on Good Tern Co-op, visit:

    Kay Stephens can be reached at