July 31, 2008

EDITORIAL: No. 3 in Giving Can Give Even More

By The Wisconsin State Journal

Jul. 31--The Madison area has a lot of heart.

Madison ranks third among 75 mid-sized cities nationally for volunteerism, according to a study released this week by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Being No. 3 is a great honor and tribute to the 189,000 people in Dane, Columbia and Iowa counties who donate 16.2 million hours of their time to deserving causes each year.

Yet the region can do even better. Getting involved is easy, and most opportunities don't require specialized skills.

Here are just five of many ways to help your community in the coming weeks:

Tutor children through the "Schools of Hope" project, led by United Way of Dane County and created in 1995 by the Wisconsin State Journal and WISC-TV (Ch. 3). Volunteer tutors are closing the achievement gap between black and white students in Madison schools. Contact the United Way at 608-246-4380 or www.unitedwaydanecounty.org.

Preserve Madison's lakes by picking up trash and removing weeds. Volunteer with the Monona Bay Shoreline Clean Up by calling 608-266-5949 or visiting www.ci.madison.wi.us/parks.

Read to people with low vision. The nonprofit Neighbor to Neighbor program needs volunteers to read newspapers, mail, food labels and books. Contact Linda Watson at 608-274-7900.

Paint homes for low-income families. On August 23, the nonprofit Project Home will host its annual Paint-a-thon. Call 608-246-3737 or visit www.projecthomewi.org.

Take adoptable dogs for walks and play. Volunteers also help dogs learn good manners. Contact the Dane County Humane Society at 608-838-0413 or visit www.giveshelter.org.

Volunteers in and around Madison make an estimated annual economic contribution of $317 million to their communities. And volunteers in Wisconsin contribute $3.2 billion annually.

Volunteering does more than benefit the needy. Studies suggest it improves the well-being of people who donate their time and energy.

So choose an opportunity and join thousands of your neighbors who are making a difference.

The impact of volunteering is immeasurable.


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