Maplewood residents donate 4.2% of their annual income to charity and South Orange residents donate 4.5%.
That's higher than the New Jersey average of 3.7%, according to How America Gives, a new study from The Chronicle of Philanthropy that rates each of the 28,725 zip codes in the U.S. by measuring income levels and charitable donations made by taxpayers. (The report used IRS tax record for 2008, the most recent year data was available.)
Maplewood ranked 1,075 for contributions, donating $24.4 million with a median family contribution of $2,954. South Orange residents ranked 1,577, donating $20 million with a median contribution of $3,873.
The median income was $70,048 for Maplewood and $85,194 for South Orange.
"The overwhelming way this community reaches out to its fellow brothers and sisters is humbling," said Amy Jo Curran, executive director of . "In every way. Money, yes -- but in so many ways besides money. The minute we send out our notification to the town that a family needs their help, it is returned literally minutes later."
Curran cited the numerous ways Maplewood and South Orange residents have assisted neighbors in need, including building a ramp for the family of , a 12-year-old boy who was stricken with brain cancer, and cleaning and cooking for the family of , who was seriously injured in an auto accident.
Local businesses have donated goods and services to families in need, including a large project done by Gateway Plumbing, free movie tickets, food from , health care advice from a PhD. in Public Health from Columbia University, physical therapy and more.
"I have been in awe since last December when we did our true first campaign for the Angelo family, and it has continued ever since," said Curran. "I feel so fortunate to live in a town like Maplewood/South Orange. "
Overall, charitable donations by New Jersey residents ranked eighth in the nation in 2008 with $4.5 billion. California finished in first place and New York in second.
Essex County ranked 62 out of 3,115 counties surveyed in the country with a median contribution of $2,712 per household and had total contributions for that year of $426.1 million, or 5.5 percent of resident’s total income, according to the report.
Among the study's other findings:
- Utah is the most generous state, donating 10.6 percent of discretionary income.
- New Hampshire is the stingiest, donating 2.5 percent of income.
- People who live in politically conservative, "red states" are more generous than those in liberal or "blue states."