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Volunteers Needed? Look to South Dakota

From kids' sports to charitable causes, a new study confirms that many South Dakotans are ready and willing to volunteer. (Jerry Oster)
From kids' sports to charitable causes, a new study confirms that many South Dakotans are ready and willing to volunteer. (Jerry Oster)
November 21, 2016

YANKTON, S.D. — A national survey now confirms what many in the state already know: when volunteers are needed, South Dakotans answer the call.

Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, said that the group's annual survey on volunteering shows South Dakota making another big jump in the rankings.

"You were number 10 last year in the nation, which is still good, but South Dakota jumped from number 10 to number four in the most number of volunteers per capita,” Spencer said. "There is something great going on in South Dakota, as you really care about communities there."

The top two most popular volunteer activities in the survey were collecting and distributing food and fundraising for nonprofit and charitable causes. Spencer said volunteer efforts in the state really add up, with more than 241,000 people helping out every year.

"They volunteered 23.3 million hours,” she said. "Now, let's apply our factor of what the value of each hour is, and that makes an economic benefit to the state of $630 million."

Spencer, who spent some time in South Dakota last week as part of a 50-state tour, said she saw some young volunteers in action.

"They said, 'Let's provide coats to those people who might not have a warm coat, or a real reliable one or one that is newer,' and I thought that was great,” Spencer said. "Let’s encourage our young people to volunteer at an early age, so they get that built-in to sort of their DNA for the rest of their life."

The survey found that more than 35 percent of South Dakotans do some form of volunteer work each year.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD