With Thanksgiving only a few short weeks away, it’s not too soon to start reflecting on all that we have to be grateful for and, more importantly, how we can share with those less fortunate. As it turns out, there are some very special places in Virginia that seem to take this message to heart year round.
Before we get started, please note that 3 of the areas mentioned were also ranked among the state’s 10 poorest areas. I guess it just goes to show that you don’t have to have much to share what you have.
1. City of Martinsville
Martinsville is perhaps the most pleasant surprise of all. Despite also ranking #1 for the poorest city in the state, this small city in Southern Virginia gives the highest percentage of the gross adjusted income to charity. It's clear that, regardless of their economy, the people in Martinsville are always ready to help those in need.
Giving Ratio: 5.96%
Total Amount Donated: $7,671,000
Median Amount Donated: $4,699
2. Bath County
Located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, Bath County is home to the famous Homestead Resort and the Jefferson Pool hot springs. With fewer than 5,000 residents, it the second-least populated county in Virginia, but its people give back in a big way. Communities include Hot Springs, Millboro, Armstrong, Thomastown and others.
Giving Ratio: 5.72%
Total Amount Donated: $2,371,000
Median Amount Donated: $5,094
3. City of Danville
Although Danville is also on the list of poorest cities in Virginia, it ranks a strong #3 for charitable giving. Danville was once a thriving center of trade and export and still shows beautifully preserved history with some of the grandest examples of Victorian and Edwardian architecture in Virginia. And like the stately homes that still stand proudly, the people of Danville have not let economic tides change their generosity.
Giving Ratio: 5.62%
Total Amount Donated: $17,969,000
Median Amount Donated: $5,180
4. Henry County
Perhaps not surprising, Henry County, the county that surrounds the independent city of Martinsville, comes in 4th for charitable contributions. The county was named after the famous Virginia statesman, Patrick Henry, who owned a plantation nearby. Today, Henry County is home to the town of Ridgeway, as well as communities like Chatmoss, Bassett, Collinsville, Spencer and more.
Giving Ratio: 5.57%
Total Amount Donated: $17,758,000
Median Amount Donated: $4,814
5. City of Petersburg
Located just south of the capital city of Richmond, Petersburg was once a booming transportation hub and boasts a long and fascinating history. Today, Petersburg remains a transportation center with junctions for several interstate highways, U.S. highways and train lines - not to mention being one of our state's most charitable communities.
Giving Ratio: 5.54%
Total Amount Donated: $12,489,000
Median Amount Donated: $3,897
6. City of Emporia
As the third and final entry to also appear on the poorest cities list, Emporia is an independent city within Greensville County in Southern Virginia. Although Emporia is a transportation crossroads with major railroad lines and interstates nearby, it is also the second smallest city in Virginia with a population just below 6,000. But as you can see, small size does not keep the residents of Emporia from giving big.
Giving Ratio: 5.35%
Total Amount Donated: $2,207,000
Median Amount Donated: $3,690
7. Highland County
Set amidst the rolling hills just west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Highland County is the least populated county in the state, boasting just over 2,000 residents. Sometimes referred to as "Virginia's Switzerland," Highland includes the quaint town of Monterey, as well as areas like Mill Gap, Hardscrabble, Clover Creek and Trimble. While it may be the smallest county, Highland residents are always ready to give what they have and lend a helping hand, earning them a 7th place spot on our list for generosity.
Giving Ratio: 5.31%
Total Amount Donated: $1,168,000
Median Amount Donated: $5,157
8. Appomattox County
Ron Zanoni / flickr
Located in Virginia's Piedmont Region, Appomattox County was created in 1845 and named after the Appomattox River, which got its name from the Appamatuck Native American tribe. Today, Appomattox is home to the towns of Appomattox and Pamplin City, as well as historical sites such as the famous Appomattox Courthouse where Lee surrendered to Grant and ended the Civil War. For giving, they wrap up with a strong 8th place finish.
Giving Ratio: 5.22%
Total Amount Donated: $7,485,000
Median Amount Donated: $3,769
9. Pittsylvania County
Pittsylvania County sits in the southern part of the state, just along the border of North Carolina, and is home to the 7th largest undeveloped uranium deposit in the world. Towns in Pittsylvania include Chatham, Gretna and Hurt, as well as many unincorporated communities that help this county of nearly 64,000 rank among our most charitable areas.
Giving Ratio: 5.16%
Total Amount Donated: $26,284,000
Median Amount Donated: $4,745
10. Richmond County
Richmond County / Facebook
This Northern Neck county has a population just over 9,000. Not to be confused with the capital city of Richmond, Richmond County was formed in the late 1600s and offers many beautiful Nationally Protected Areas, as well as the charming town of Warsaw, which is also the county seat. Not only does this county share a wealth of natural beauty, they also round out our list for most giving.
Total Amount Donated: $3,553,000
Median Amount Donated: $3,836
The most interesting part of this research was discovering how it’s not always those with the most that give the most. What does your community do to give back? What about you? Do you have a favorite state or national charity? We would love to hear about it in the comments below.