News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 25, 2009

TRIBUNE-STAR EDITORIAL: A day to give thanks and help

Holiday a good time to commit to volunteering

TERRE HAUTE — Help only becomes a reality when it is given. Today, it’s something needed by many throughout this community and state.

If you’re looking for a blessing to mention in your Thanksgiving thoughts or prayers today, include the generous nature of Hoosiers. Right now, as Indiana steadies itself for a slow recovery from a long recession, a vast array of fund drives are under way to help needy families and children. The spirit of giving is part of the culture in the Terre Haute community. It emerged two summers ago when a flood devastated many parts of the town, and hasn’t stopped since as the painful economic downturn drags on and on.

Hoosiers have a track record of helping. In 2008, the estimated economic impact of volunteerism totaled $4.5 billion, according to the Indiana Business Research Center at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. About 28.1 percent of those volunteer hours went toward raising charity funds. The collection and distribution of food — a tradition during the year-end holidays — accounted for 25 percent of the volunteer hours.

Nearly 3 of every 10 Hoosier adults — 29.5 percent, to be precise — performed volunteer work last year, amounting to 205.2 million hours of donated time.

Human nature drives many of us to spend an inordinate amount of time complaining about the economy’s effect on our lives. Instead, Thanksgiving 2009 offers the perfect moment for the able-bodied to use that gripe time constructively by joining that 29.5 percent of the Hoosier population already volunteering on behalf of others.

So today, give thanks, then commit to giving help.