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Much of the nation’s economy may be continuing to struggle, but one area is still going strong: volunteering. New data from the Corporation for National and Community Service make clear that even in hard times - particularly in hard times - there’s something about the American character that pulls us together, inspiring neighbors to help neighbors and citizens to give back to their communities. Nearly 62 million Americans dedicated 8 billion hours of service in 2008, a tally that works out to a monetary value of $162 billion but of course cannot be measured in purely financial terms. What we do know is that service is up across a wide range of the demographic spectrum: for both men and women, and across ethnic groups and age ranges. There has been a particular spike - nearly one-third - in Americans taking the initiative to address a need in their neighborhood, and getting others involved in the process. And young people are leading the way. The current generation is one of the most socially conscious in history. The number of young adults (age 16 to 24) who volunteered increased by more than 441,000 from 2007 to 2008, to more than 8.2 million.


Solomont, Alan, and Steve Goldsmith. "With Voluntarism on Rise Comes a Chance to Seize the Day." Boston Globe, August 22, 2009.