Recent Op-Eds

South Dakota's Giving Spirit

By: Senator John Thune

July 9, 2010

President Ronald Reagan once said, "The work of volunteer groups throughout our country represents the very heart and soul of America. They have helped make this the most compassionate, generous, and humane society that ever existed on the face of this earth."

South Dakotans are known for their generous dedication to volunteerism. Charity is woven into the very fabric of who we are as a state.

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)-the independent government agency whose mission is to support a culture of volunteerism-an average of 37.2 percent of South Dakota residents volunteered over the past two years, making our state 6th among all of the states for volunteering. CNCS also reports that an average of 227,500 volunteers lent 23.6 million hours of service in our communities over the same time frame.

These numbers reflect what is already well known across our state-South Dakotans understand the value of lending a helping hand. Whether it is stacking sandbags during floods, shoveling an elderly neighbor's sidewalk, or driving a homebound member of the community to church, our state knows the importance of doing the right thing.

We cannot simply rest on our laurels, however, because there are always ways that we can do more. In the midst of our busy summer schedules, let us all take a moment to extend a hand up to those less fortunate in our communities.

There are countless ways to volunteer in our state, and each and every day our citizens are out doing what they can to assist their friends, families, and even strangers.

Taking a moment to mentor a troubled child, serve as a foster grandparent, or help a military family while a parent is away serving on behalf of our country, will add value to our communities and strengthen our state's resolve.