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Local, state residents give generously
From donations to volunteering, Kansans among most giving in U.S.
thanksgiving generosity
RSVP of Central Kansas volunteers help distribute food boxes earlier this year. Local residents are part of the reason Kansas is among the most generous states in the nation.

Thanksgiving comes Thursday, ushering in the holiday season of giving. 

The average American spends about $1,050 on things like gifts, travel and other goodies. But, on average, the American household donates $2,520 a year to charities, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. 

And, the Corporation for National and Community Service reported that in 2006, 61.2 million Americans volunteered, representing 26.7% of the adult population. Between 2004 and 2006, the average state volunteer rates ranged from 17.5% to 45.9%. 

Kansans play a big part in this generosity. The Sunflower State ranks as the third most generous state in the nation, according to Zippia, a San Fransico, Calif.-based job placement company.

Kansas residents, including those in Barton and Pawnee counties, donate an average of 4.8% of their income to charities, the third highest in the United States. Meanwhile 38% of them volunteer, with the average number of hours volunteered annually being 44.7, which is the fifth highest in the nation.

Those locally who work with donors and volunteers are not surprised.

“I would like to think that all of us in the non-profit network of providing services and resources for those in need would agree with how humbled we all are when it comes to the generosity in our communities,” said Gaila Demel, executive director, United Way of Central Kansas. She covers Barton and Pawnee counties.

“Especially right now, it seems there is a broader reach of giving than in the past few years,” Demel said. “Working with our business partners through the Workplace Campaign reinforces their corporate social responsibility approach and their community engagement.  The matching dollars make a huge difference collectively when it comes to the overall campaign total.”

Volunteers In Action along with their AmeriCorps Senior program has seen what volunteer engagement truly looks like for the last 35 plus years, said program director Linn Hogg. Over 300 volunteers put in an average of 66 hours each in a year for programs like Meals On Wheels, Medical Transportation, blood drives, food banks, senior food distribution, Medicare counseling, tax preparation and at non-profit agencies across Barton and Pawnee counties.

“When Barton Community College started sponsoring the RSVP program, our ‘greatest generation,’ stepped forward to help agencies deliver much-needed services to the area,” she said. “It is amazing to see the people that step forward to help when asked.”  

Now, as Volunteers In Action and AmeriCorps Seniors, the next generation of volunteers is ready to fill those shoes, she said. Volunteer engagement looks much different now, but the need is still great. 

She hopes to usher area non-profit agencies into this new era so the skilled volunteer, the young adults, the newly retired can continue to connect and fill the unmet needs.

Typically, people will wait to donate at the end of each year. In fact, around 34% of all donations are collected in the last three months of the year. 

By looking over the percent of income donated to charity, how many people volunteer and the average volunteer hours, we were able to determine that these 10 states are the most generous. 

The other top 10 states included: Utah, Idaho, Alaska, Oregon, Nebraska, Minnesota, Washington, Wyoming and Oklahoma.