‘Volunteerism is in our DNA’

Study names Idaho third most-charitable state

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Bob Malizia, who served in the Army from 1967-70, organizes donated clothing before placing it on racks inside the Newby-ginnings veterans center thrift store on Tuesday in Dalton Gardens, where he volunteers every Tuesday. "I love seeing the joy on the people's faces who come in here," he says. "I get blessed more than they do."

COEUR d'ALENE — The faces make Bob Malizia want to give more and more.

Malizia, a Vietnam veteran, volunteers at the Newby-ginnings nonprofit in Dalton Gardens, which distributes free merchandise to vets in need.

"A lot of these guys who come in have absolutely nothing," Malizia said on Tuesday while volunteering at Newby-ginnings. "When we help them with whatever their needs are, I think I get more of a blessing out of it than they do. It's neat to see that when somebody has a need we are able to fulfill that need."

WalletHub, a personal finance social network, on Tuesday named Idaho as the third-most charitable state in 2015 according to its study.

Eight metrics — volunteer rate, percentage of adjusted gross income donated, percentage of the population who claim to have donated time, people who donated money to charity, growth in charitable giving from 2006 to 2012, number of charities per 10,000 residents, community service requirement for high school graduation and the number of volunteer hours per capita — were used in the study.

Data was obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Corporation for National and Community Service, Education Commission of the States, the National Center for Charitable Statistics, the Internal Revenue Service and The Chronicle of Philanthropy and Gallup.

Local nonprofit leaders say they aren't surprised about the study's ranking of Idaho, but confirmation on such a positive tidbit is a nice pat on the back for donors and volunteers.

"Kootenai County is by far the most generous community I have ever been a part of," said Jamé Davis, president of the Rotary Club of Post Falls. "Whether it is writing a check, showing up for a service project, or our cities coming together to pass a school levy, the people that make up the fabric of our community are warm, generous and collaborative.

"Volunteerism is in our DNA, and coming together to improve the lives of our citizens is what it’s all about. I am proud and grateful to raise my family here."

Mormon-dominated Utah was ranked as the most-charitable state, followed by Maryland. Oregon and South Dakota, respectively, followed Idaho in the top five.

California was ranked No. 48, Louisiana No. 49 and Rhode Island No. 50.

A recent example of generous local giving surfaced during the national collection week for Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan's Purse that sends gifts to children living in difficult situations around the world.

A total of 10,980 gift-filled shoeboxes were collected last month in North Idaho, surpassing last year's collection of 7,701.

Theresa Hart, founder of Newby-ginnings — which is named after her son, Nick Newby, who was killed in Iraq in 2011 — said her nonprofit has grown thanks to donors and volunteers to the point it needs more space again. It plans to move in May from its 2,900-square-foot facility to one that's 5,700 square feet at a site in Post Falls.

"We've grown from a dining room table to needing that much space in two and a half years," Hart said. "It's a good example of the generosity of this community. I see how awesome people are every day."

Hart said a homeless veteran who serves at the nonprofit on his day off is among the nonprofit's volunteers.

"Our volunteers are the heroes who live among us," she said. "They make it possible for us to do what we do."

Jeff Conroy, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul North Idaho, has worked with nonprofits for nearly 26 years, including 20 years in North Idaho.

"I am astonished annually with the capacity of giving in our community," Conroy said. "Giving of materials, giving of money and giving of time. I love where I live."

From left to right, veteran Jack Drapau, Pam Moist and Mary Matthews sort donated clothes in the drop-off area of the Newby-ginnings veterans center thrift store on Tuesday in Dalton Gardens.

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