Andover's Favorite Local Charities Of 2020: List

Christopher Huffaker

ANDOVER, MA — In a typical year, the holiday season is the time when many nonprofit organizations have to turn away volunteers.

But 2020 is not a typical year, and the coronavirus pandemic has left many local charities with fewer donations and volunteers. Earlier this week, Fidelity Charitable released a study showing that two-in-three volunteers had decreased or stopped contributing time to nonprofit organizations since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.

The study also found that 64 percent of people weren't sure how to find or participate in remote volunteer activities nonprofits have offered since the start of the crisis.

We asked Andover neighbors what your favorite charities are, as part of an effort to help increase awareness of the nonprofits. People answered. The top pick? AVIS-The Andover Village Improvement Society.

"AVIS is 126 years old and does an excellent job of preserving open space and making it available to the public for their enjoyment," John Hess wrote. "It has been particularly important to have this land available during the pandemic."

"AVIS protects 1,300 acres as open space for the benefit of all," said Alix Driscoll. "During these hard covid-19 times the trails welcome many more walkers that usual to walk its trails, to seek peace in the the beauty of these preserved lands and to breathe fresh air. It is the second oldest land trust in MA."

"AVIS is one of the oldest land trusts in the country and owns over 1,200 acres of open space and trails for the enjoyment of all," Buzz Stapczynski noted.

Other Andover-area charities mentioned:

Andover Center for History & Culture

John Hess also wrote in about the Andover Center for History & Culture, as did Karen Simmonds.

"The Andover History Center has worked hard during the entire pandemic, ensuring its staff were not furloughed; transitioning from a business that was very much hands-on to one that is now fully online; and providing the community with much anticipated and entertaining stories and events about Andover's past," Simmonds wrote. "The staff have remained positive and connected and ensured that volunteers like me can still help out in a Covid-safe environment, and all the time trying to keep afloat in the current financial uncertainty!"

"They continue to tell great stories about Andover and her people, stories that remind us where we have been, how we got to where we are, and hopefully, inform us where we might be going," Hess wrote.

Groundwork Lawrence

Susan Stott wrote: "Groundwork Lawrence (GWL) is making a significant different to the Youth on its Green Team, to the environment and outdoor spaces in Lawrence and to food security during this pandemic."

Learn more about Groundwork Lawrence

Aaron's Presents

"This charity empowers children to help their communities," Christine Pierce said. "Kids come up with their own ideas for what they want to do and this charity helps them execute. It is really something special, showing kids at an early age how important it is to help and give back to society."

Learn more about Aaron's Presents.

Lazarus House Ministries

Stoneham resident Lisa Theriault nominated this Lawrence charity. She wrote: "Their logo says it all 'Opening Doors Out of Poverty.' They provide food, clothing, shelter and work prep to people in need, with the ultimate goal of leading them to 'stand on their own with dignity.'"

Learn more about Lazarus House

The Psychological Center

An anonymous submitter recommended this Lawrence organization: "Helps women, shelter, addiction and recovery services."

Learn more about the Psychological Center

Merrimack Valley Habitat For Humanity

North Andover resident Janet wrote in about Merrimack Valley Habitat For Humanity, which is based in Lawrence.

"Wonderful volunteers that give back to the surrounding communities by building homes," she wrote. "The stores sells gently used goods from furniture to glass wear, tools and appliances and even the kitchen sink!"

Learn more about Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity

We're collecting the responses and publish profiles of readers' favorite local charities throughout the holiday season.

If you have a favorite local charity, fill out the form below, so we can let our readers know about the work it does, as well as its current goals and needs:

This article originally appeared on the Andover Patch