PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A nickel may not seem like a lot. But those nickels add up.

When Oregon began charging for bags several years ago in an effort to get shoppers to bring reusable bags, New Seasons launched its Bag It Forward campaign. The grocer donates 5 cents to local non-profits for every re-usable bag used by customers.

Since 2016, a total of 261 non-profits have benefitted from Bag It Forward. Recently, the Bag It Forward program reached $1 million in total charitable donations to non-profits like Community Action in Washington County.

Community Action provides housing, homelessness services, Head Start programs and more for 34,000 low-income residents. They’ve received $161,000 from New Seasons customer donations over the years and that money is more needed than ever before.

“We’re here to provide services that lift people up and help them build better lives for themselves and their children,” said Kristy Reddick with Community Action. “We know for so many people the pandemic was a really challenging time. But for people living paycheck to paycheck, it was economically devastating.”

New Seasons cashier Tina Yee always has a big smile on her face to greet customers, especially those with reusable bags.

“New seasons thought about it and said, why don’t we do good for that? Why don’t we, instead of being charged for that, if people bring their own bags we will donate 5 cents,” Yee said.

Reusable bags in use at New World supermarket in New Lynn on June 12, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
A reusable grocery bag (Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

She wants people to bring in those reusable bags so New Seasons can give even more to organizations like Community Action.

“Everybody is a community,” she said. “It’s a connection between our customers, being able to help a little bit and having New Seasons be the centerpoint for collecting that.”