In a year marked by war and natural disasters, there is good news: Americans are committed to service, charitable giving and volunteering.
For example, charities and philanthropic organizations are thriving-even after a period filled with an unusually high number of natural disasters. According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, "Many of the nation's biggest charities are raising as much or more than they did in the late 1990s, when the strong economy and booming stock market boosted charitable donations a startling 50 percent."
In addition to record monetary contributions, volunteerism in certain population segments is booming, too. It's estimated that more than 64 million Americans annually volunteer their time, talent and energy to make a difference in their community and in the lives of those around them.
Some say that commitment to service is one of the more enduring legacies of President George H.W. Bush's presidency.
A new book, Points of Light: A Celebration of the American Spirit of Giving by Robert Goodwin and Thomas Kinkade, with a foreword by former President Bush ($19.95, Center Street), tells the story of this rise in philanthropy and volunteerism.
Each of the 12 chapters presents a different story of people making a real difference, from Timothy Miller, who organized the Texas EquuSearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team after the abduction and murder of his daughter, to Lt. Jim Mayer, who lost his arm in Vietnam but not his spirit to serve. Mayer dedicates his life to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and spends his spare time as a volunteer amputee peer adviser at Walter Reed Army Hospital.
The Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network engages and mobilizes millions of volunteers who are helping to solve serious social problems in thousands of communities.
Robert Goodwin has served as president and CEO of the Points of Light Foundation since July 1, 1995.
Described as a "painter of light," Thomas Kinkade is said to be America's most collected living artist, according to CBS News.