The Free Press, Mankato, MN


June 16, 2014

Enjoy summer by giving to community

Why it matters: Minnesota ranks as a charitable state, but we shouldn't take a break because it's summertime.

As summer activities push into our daily lives with outdoor projects, festivals and vacations becoming top priorities before three months have raced by, it would be worth reinforcing a priority that a recent poll says Minnesotans pay a lot of attention to.

We are among the top places in the country when it comes to charitable giving. A Gallup poll done from June to December 2013 in all 50 states shows that Minnesota is the second most charitable state, trailing only Utah. When asked about their giving of time or money in the past month, 66 percent of the Minnesotans polled gave money; 53 percent gave time; and 41 percent gave both.

That may not be a surprise to people who have lived here awhile. Benefits, fundraisers and drives in the Mankato area are common activities. The United Way of Greater Mankato is highly successful at its campaign drives.

Even so, those who benefit from giving are in our communities all year long — even during the busy summer. The ECHO Food Shelf and the American Red Cross typically see a drop in donations during the summer, as is probably the case with many nonprofits when residents’ are more focused on summer fun or are gone for a week or two. Most of the college students have left town for the summer, so student groups are not organizing fundraisers and fewer students are around to volunteer.

Summer is the time, however, when students who are behind in their studies need tutors to help them catch up. Summer is the time that Habitat for Humanity building projects are in full swing. Summer is the time when kids on summer vacation don’t have school breakfast and lunch anymore, and that’s where summer feeding programs kick in.

So enjoy the summer, but let’s keep up Minnesota’s reputation by finding find some of that enjoyment by helping out in the community and easing the lives of fellow residents whose summer might not be quite as wonderful.

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