Volunteering hit highest level since 2003

Tue Jun 15, 2010 9:49am EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Despite the worse financial crisis since the 1930s, more than 63 million people in the United States volunteered their services in 2009 -- 1.6 million more than in 2008 and the biggest rise since 2003.

The Corporation for National & Community Services (CNCS), an independent government agency, said volunteers heeding President Barack Obama's call to serve their communities contributed 8.1 billion hours of services which is equal to about $169 billion.

"As the economic crisis affected many individuals personally and sent shockwaves across the country, Americans reached out to help through service," the CNCS said in a report, which can found at www.volunteeringinamerica.gov.

It added that the rise in volunteers was fueled mainly by married women aged 45-54 and people working full time who mentored and tutored youths, provided job training and transport, fed the needy, helped the homeless and provided many other services.

"Through service, volunteers are supporting the vulnerable populations hit hardest by the economy and helping to create a stronger more stable future," the report added.

Rates for volunteering, performing unpaid activities for or through an organization, were up 1.1 percent among African Americas, 1.6 percent among women and 0.9 percent among jobless adults.

Average volunteer rates for 2009 range from 34.4 percent for parents and 30.1 percent for women to 22 percent for young adults and 21.6 percent for millennials, people born in 1982 and after.

Patrick Corvington, the CEO of CNCS, credited Obama's call for people to become engaged with their communities for the increase in volunteering.   Continued...

<p>A woman conveys her gratitude to a volunteer distributing free hats and scarves during New York's largest Christmas Day Celebration for New Yorkers in need at the YMCA in Brooklyn, New York December 25, 2009. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi</p>