When it comes to volunteering, Nebraska and Iowa rank near the top.
In both states, 36 percent of residents spent time volunteering in 2012. According to a new report issued by the Corporation for National Community Service, that ties the Midlands states for fifth place nationally. On average, 1 in 4 Americans volunteered last year.
The Midlands numbers are impressive.
Nebraskans recorded 35.8 volunteer hours per resident. That’s nearly a full-time job for a week. There were a total of 494,150 volunteers, giving service that was worth $869.4 million. More than half of Nebraskans, 57.7 percent, donated to charity.
Iowa tallied 33.2 volunteer hours per resident, with 784,000 volunteers contributing service valued at $1.4 billion. And 51.6 percent donated to charity.
Maybe that kind of participation can be attributed to the traditions of the early pioneers who looked out for their neighbors, or to the strong local identities of many Midlands communities, or to the satisfaction received in helping others.
It’s the kind of generosity many places might see at this time of year, but which Nebraskans and Iowans demonstrate year-round. And both states have agencies that can connect volunteers with opportunities (www.serve.nebraska.gov and www.volunteeriowa.org).
There’s always room for another helping hand.