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THE ISSUE: Community of Giving; OUR OPINION: Sunday’s special section highlights those helping others in all seasons

Many people believe that foundations and corporations are the backbone of giving in America. As reported by Forbes, that’s a misconception, with individuals contributing the steady 2 percent of GDP that constitutes giving.

And as the U.S. nonprofit sector is finally seeing donations bounce back from recession, individuals are leading way, according to the annual analysis “Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy” produced by the Giving USA Foundation.

“We are seeing clear gains in the total amount given by individuals in the last couple of years,” said Gregg Carlson, chair of the Giving USA Foundation. “Of special interest is the rise in contributions by individuals between 2011 and 2013 – it represents 73 percent of the growth in total giving during that time frame.”

No surprisingly, the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons bring out the best in people for giving. More than half of all donations typically are made between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. But even the organizations that are known for Christmas relief remind everyone: Need knows no season.

In Sunday’s Times and Democrat, we are publishing our third “Community of Giving” special section. It features an overview of local philanthropic organizations and how they impact our community. The section will introduce you to the volunteer efforts of many of your friends and neighbors and how they experience the joy of helping others.

Included are:

* YMCA — The Orangeburg County YMCA has a wide variety of programs for people of all ages and interests, featuring a waterpark (open in the summer), natatorium, therapeutic pool, large fitness center, gymnasium, Child Watch and other programs.

* The Salvation Army — The mission of The Salvation Army is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

* Healing Species — Healing Species is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to teaching compassion, preventing violence and changing lives through rescued dogs.

* Orangeburg County Community of Character — The initiative, with family at its core, brings together people from the fields of education, business, industry, faith, government, media and private citizens to help develop ways to strengthen character.

* CASA/Family Systems — The agency provides services to the victims of sexual assault and domestic violence as well as to the perpetrators of those crimes.

* Community Foundation for Orangeburg and Calhoun Counties — The publicly supported endowment’s focus is on making a sustainable impact on the community by increasing literacy rates.

* Orangeburg Consolidated School District Five Foundation and Bootstraps Mentoring Foundation — The foundations work to improve education in the district and help ensure student success in academics and life. The district foundation promotes and sponsors targeted educational enhancements for students and teachers. Bootstraps provides mentors for rising sixth-grade students through high school graduation.

* Orangeburg County Library — The library’s mission is to educate, inform and enrich the people of Orangeburg County.

* Dazz Orangeburg — Dazz provides free pregnancy testing, limited ultrasounds, nurse consultations and more to women facing unplanned pregnancies in the Orangeburg area.

* Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College Foundation — The OCtech Foundation supports student scholarships, capital improvements on campus, professional development for faculty and staff, and special projects undertaken by the college.

* Rotary Clubs of Orangeburg County — The Orangeburg Morning Rotary, the Orangeburg Lunch Rotary, the Lake Marion Rotary at Santee and the St. Matthews Rotary are always ready to become involved in making life better in their communities, to connect with other professionals, to share their time and expertise with young people, to support global causes and use skills to help others.

* Southern Methodist College — The college provides a distinctively Christian post-secondary education, offering an associate of arts in general and religious education; a bachelor of arts in Biblical studies with six second major possibilities; and a master of arts in Biblical studies.

* United Way of the Midlands — United Way’s mission is to unite people and resources to improve the quality of life in Midlands counties including Orangeburg and Calhoun.

* The Regional Medical Center Foundation — The foundation is the philanthropic umbrella for the Regional Medical Center and funds hospital operations, clinical services and community programs to improve the quality of life for area residents.

We urge you to take time to review and read the “Community of Giving” special section. It will show you just how much good will there is in our community year-round. And it may motivate you to give and/or get involved.

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