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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

Amazon Smile is a way to give to charity just by shopping

Here's the skinny; it's a slightly different web address, and if you use it, the company donates a portion of your purchase to the charity of your choice.

There’s a program through Amazon that many shoppers are not aware of, and it could turn into cash for your favorite charity. Amazon Smile is the charity arm of the online shopping giant.

"So far we've donated more than 237 million dollars to a really wide range of charities,” said Piers Heaton-Armstrong, president of Amazon Smile Foundation.

Here's the trick: It's a slightly different web address.

“You just start at smile.amazon.com, you pick your favorite charity, there's over a million to choose from, and then you shop Amazon as normal. Same great selection, same great prices, but with the added benefit that Amazon is going to donate a portion of your sales to the charity of your choice,” says Heaton-Armstrong.

So, you have to willingly choose to shop at smile.amazon.com each time. When you do, 0.5% of your purchase goes to the charity of your choice. Doesn't sound like a lot, but it adds up-- just ask St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

“We're celebrating a big milestone.10-million dollars from Amazon through the Amazon Smile program. Two million shoppers have chosen St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. It's enabled St. Jude to continue to grow its mission of finding cures and saving children's lives," said Richard Shadyac Jr., president and CEO of ALSAC, for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

That, friends, is pretty darn nifty. Charities can also post a wish list, so you can buy stuff, and have it sent directly to the organization. Here's the other bonus: it's not just big non-profits that take part. Your favorite local organization can reap the benefits too.

“The hardest thing about the program is just figuring out which charity you're going to support,” Heaton-Armstrong said.