Tis the season for charities to bare all for calendars

Miss December is wearing nothing but a Santa hat and a smile. Oh, and holding one strategically placed cat.

Chandra Gates, 39, decided the Humane Society of Jefferson County was a worthy enough cause for the 39-year-old to bare nearly allfor a nude-calendar fundraiser.

"I'm shy about the picture but definitely proud of the cause," said Gates, an animal caregiver there.

The Humane Society in the city of Jefferson is one of countless nonprofit organizations around thew world selling tastefully nude 2007 calendars.

A group of women aged from mid 50s to early 70s in Yorkshire, England, pioneered the idea in 2000 when they sold a calendar of discreet nude photographs of themselves to raise money for cancer research.

The women, whose story inspired the 2003 movie "Calendar Girls," raised $2.55 million (Ђ1.93 million) through sales of 800,000 calendars as well as book and film royalties.

The women have released a 2007 calendar, the group's third, that has a photo of the women clothed with Prince Charles.

In Gates' black-and-white photo in the Humane Society calendar, she is pictured from the waist up, holding a cat against her bare chest as she stands in a snowy yard.

Humane Society executive director Lisa Patefield said the calendar's other pictures are equally artistic and were inspired by the "Calendar Girls" idea. Her group expects to raise $30,000 (Ђ22,741) through the sale of 1,500 calendars.

"For nonprofits, it's getting tough to raise money," Patefield said. "In order to be competitive in fundraising, you have to come up with something new, something exciting."

Linda Bayens only plans to use nude calendars as a fundraiser once. The real estate agent from Louisville, Kentucky, and her husband created a calendar of nude chefs to help cover nearly $30,000 (Ђ22,741) of out-of-pocket medical expenses after their daughter had successful cystic fibrosis surgery this summer.

Bayens, 50, sold about 1,300 of the 2,000 calendars printed, raising some $19,000 (Ђ14,402) after expenses. She said local businesses stocked the calendars but larger bookstore chains refused, reports AP.

"I'm not sure why sales stagnated. I don't know if we were lacking exposure, no pun intended," she said.

Some groups, including the Jefferson County Humane Society, said they don't plan to make calendars in subsequent years because the originality factor is gone. But the Calendar Girls in England are still getting strong demand for their third run of calendars, said Clare Lipscombe, press manager for Leukaemia Research in London, the fundraiser's beneficiary.

"It might be difficult for other groups but we haven't found people losing interest," Lipscombe said. "Maybe because these girls were the original ones who started it all."

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