Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
FILE - USANA employees box up 100,000 meals at USANA's corporate offices in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, in celebration of National Day of Giving. The meals will be distributed to hungry and malnourished families living in the Salt Lake Valley and around the world through the USANA True Health Foundation. According to the foundation, 20,000 meals will remain in the Salt Lake Valley to be distributed by the Utah Food Bank to emergency food pantries in the area. The remaining 80,000 meals will be shipped around the world to areas the foundation supports.

Regardless of age or circumstance, charitable giving and volunteering is a bedrock virtue of societal flourishing. Thankfully, even as the holidays have become increasingly consumer centric, giving to those in need, either directly or through nonprofit organizations, remains a hallmark of the season.

As early as 1831, the French observer of American life Alexis de Tocqueville noted how citizens “of all ages, all conditions, and all minds are constantly joining together in groups.” From families and fraternal orders to churches and nonprofits, the impulse to collectively support one another forms the basis of what Edmund Burke called society’s “little platoons.” He states, “To love the little platoon we belong to in society is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections.”

We encourage readers to take a moment this season to consider how they might contribute in time or treasure in ways that extend beyond Dec. 25.

While big spending days, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as well as last-minute sales, dominate much of the public’s attention during the holiday shopping season, it’s encouraging to note that Utahns continue to set aside a disproportionately large amount of their incomes for charitable giving. This is one characteristic of the Beehive State that is worth noting as Utah once again garners national recognition as the most charitable state in the union.

In Wallet Hub’s recent report, ranking states by charitable donations, Utah was No. 1. The data compared all 50 states across 14 “key indicators of charitable behavior.” Utah came in first place or tied for first in four categories: 1) highest percent of donated income, 2) highest percent of population who donates time, 3) highest percent of population who donates money, and 4) highest volunteer rate. This is particularly significant since Utah is noted for its large, young families, which consume significant quantities of time. It also ranked 44th in personal income per capita in 2015. In other words Utahns are doing relatively more with less. And the state's generosity is recognized across the country as an increasing number of out-of-state charities have registered to solicit donations in Utah.

The Wasatch Front hosts a wide range of outstanding nonprofits with proven track records in effectively using those donations for their designated purposes, whether they be aimed at humanitarian services, education, health care, poverty reduction, homelessness, the arts, youth sports or a host of other worthwhile endeavors. Donors in the state trust that their generous contributions — the highest as a percent of income in the nation — will be used in ways that genuinely benefit others. This is a meaningful tribute to the organizations that operate in ways that gain and retain the public’s trust.

The collateral benefits to the donors of charitable giving are well documented. The sustainability of this giving, both in terms of time and money, is enhanced in Utah as families give and serve together in their communities. Amidst ubiquitous consumerism, it’s critical to give something back and remember that this season is a celebration of the world’s greatest gift, which is freely given for all those willing to receive it.