Americans have a history of being generous people. Hopefully, that won’t change during this Christmas holiday season.

An early test of the national mood on giving came on Nov. 28, Giving Tuesday. Even though the date followed Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday with people spending lots of money, Giving Tuesday set a record in 2017.

Blackbaud Inc., whose systems process a majority of the online donations made in the United States on Giving Tuesday, announced that it processed more than $60.9 million from more than 7,200 organizations receiving donations. Online donations were up again for the sixth year.

The latest World Giving Index shows Americans are among the world’s most generous people, ranking No. 5 out of 140 countries. U.S. donors in 2016 gave more than $389 billion to charity, with 72 percent of the funds coming directly from individuals, according to the National Philanthropic Trust.

But Americans do more than reach into their pockets to help others. They also contribute their time — and plenty of it. Nearly 63 million people volunteer, serving a combined total of 7.9 billion hours per year, the equivalent of $184 billion of service.

In the spirit of inspiring altruism, WalletHub.com determined the most charitable of the 50 states by comparing them across 14 key indicators of charitable behavior. The data set ranges from volunteer rate to share of income donated to share of sheltered homeless.

South Carolina ranked 19th overall, 32nd in giving of time and 14th in charitable giving.

In Orangeburg County, the Community of Character program has put special emphasis on giving, with generosity being designated as the trait for December.

There are so many ways in which to be generous, from helping a friend directly to contributing to organizational efforts in the form of time and money. No matter how you do it, you will feel better if you make generosity a part of your holiday.

The old saying about need knowing no season is true, but Christmas is a particularly important time for children. Ensuring that needs and wants are addressed is a priority.

So reach out this Christmas with a generous hand to help those working to make Christmas bright. If you can help individually or through your church or other group, do so. If not, two primary efforts are underway. Both welcome your generosity:

• The “Very Merry Toy Drive” is a project of the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce, the Salvation Army and The Times and Democrat. It helps children who would otherwise not receive toys this holiday season.

People are asked to donate new, unwrapped toys by placing them in a box located in The T&D's downstairs lobby or at one of 11 other sites across the community. Toys can be dropped off through Dec. 11.

Other drop-off sites include: the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce, Grove Park Pharmacy, Swift Books, Jimmy Jones Toyota of Orangeburg, North Furniture in North, Garden Gate Florist, Groucho’s Deli, Walmart, Edisto Creamery, Kool Smiles and Chick-fil-A.

Children who are not adopted through the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program have toys provided for them through the Very Merry Toy Drive.

Donations to the Salvation Army may also be made through the Red Kettle campaign through Dec. 23.

• The Marine Corps Toys for Tots campaign served more than 1,000 children a year ago. The program assists children ages 2 to 14. New, unwrapped toys are accepted, along with financial gifts to purchase toys.

The campaign runs from Oct. 1 through Dec. 16. Boxes at businesses, churches and schools are available for collection of new and unwrapped toys.

People interested in donating a monetary gift can mail it to P.O. Box 1446, Orangeburg, SC 29116. All donations should be made out to the Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots. The campaign can also be reached via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MCTFTOrangeburgSC?fref=ts.

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