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Annual West Marine BlueFuture fundraiser begins Friday

West Marine kicks off its annual Month of Giving on Friday to support its nonprofit BlueFuture program.

During the four-week fundraiser customers can donate to BlueFuture by purchasing “Give Joy” gift tags in stores. The tags will be on display throughout the month. Donations will be accepted in any amount at stores and can also be made online.

All proceeds from the Month of Giving will benefit BlueFuture and its grants program, which distributes tens of thousands of dollars annually to dozens of nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to getting children on the water through boating, fishing, paddling and the marine sciences.

“We’re hoping that this year’s Month of Giving will allow us to expand our grants program in 2018,” West Marine communications director Laura Barry said in a statement. “We’re continuing to receive increasing numbers of grant applications, this year receiving more than 300 of them from coast to coast. We’re determined to broaden our reach so we can include even more organizations and provide more children with access to the water.”

The company said the grants are much needed as community-based programs face dwindling resources. This is particularly true when it comes to getting young people in underserved, at-risk communities out on the water — learning skills, engaging with marine sciences and sustainability practices and acquiring job and life skills, the company said.

Each grant is $1,500 and it’s unrestricted, which means West Marine lets the recipient determine how the money should be used.

“No one understands the needs of a community better than those who live and work in that community,” Barry said. “We’re thrilled to learn how our grant funding is making a difference in children’s lives. That’s why it’s so important to encourage everyone, from our associates and vendors to our customers and friends, to support the Month of Giving in December. Together we can make a difference — and share with children everywhere the unique joy that only time on and around the water can bring.”

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