Kansans continued their penchant for volunteerism in 2015.
Kansas ranked seventh in the nation for the rate of volunteerism, according to the Volunteering and Civic Life in America report. Kansas was ranked fifth in the country for volunteerism in the report for 2014.
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About 31 percent of Kansas residents volunteered last year. That’s about 688,224 people contributing more than 76 million hours of service.
The rate for volunteer work for the whole country was about 25 percent.
“The fact that we have remained in the top 10 rankings for volunteerism year after year is a positive testament to the kinds of friends and neighbors we have here in Kansas,” Volunteer Kansas executive director Nola Brown said in a news release.
More than 56 percent of Kansas residents donated $25 or more to charity in 2015.
The most common type of volunteerism was helping out with religious activities, educational activities, and social or community service.
A lot of groups rely heavily on volunteers in their daily operations, particularly around the holidays.
“We have a staff of one and half … so we do a lot with volunteers,” said Jennifer White, the founder of ICT SOS, a nonprofit that helps trafficking victims and other vulnerable children.
Volunteers help fill the group’s fresh start bags, which are kits for youth in crisis and include clothing, hygiene items and a gift card for a meal.
The group also offers training in skills like trauma-informed care and handling sensitive disclosures that volunteers can use with other partner organizations, like the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center.
“We sometimes joke it’s creating this pool of really great volunteers that everyone can steal from us, which is what we kind of want them to do,” White said.
Melissa Houston, the Kansas Humane society’s communications director, said their volunteers have contributed 80,000 hours this year.
“Our volunteers are vital to our mission,” Houston said. “We wouldn’t be able to get through a single day without their help.”
Volunteers can bring a number of skills to their work, Houston said. If they have medical experience, they can provide medical care to animals. But if people aren’t good with animals, they can work handling office duties.
“There’s lot of areas that people can volunteer,” Houston said. “Around the holidays, typically what they help with us is taking care of the animals, walking dogs, cuddling cats.”
“Without that time our volunteers spend, even it’s just two hours every two weeks, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”