A study ranks Iowa number-five in the nation for volunteering, a move up one slot from a year ago. Bob Grimm, research director for the Corporation for National and Community Service, says about 37% of all Iowans volunteered their time at least once last year — that’s about 865,000 Iowans.

"People in Iowa are regular volunteers," Grimm says. "What I mean by that is that, in some places, people volunteer one year and then they don’t volunteer the next, but in Iowa, the vast majority of people are volunteering year after year. It’s a part of their lifestyle. It’s what part of what they do."

In all, Iowans last year donated nearly 88-million hours of their time, which works out to more than 37-hours for every Iowan. That equates to $1.8 billion in services donated. Grimm says last year’s widespread flooding prompted many new volunteers to take action in Iowa, though he says the state’s traditionally had very good numbers. Volunteering, he says, has two-way benefits.

"There’s been a growing amount of research that suggests, just like regular exercise, regular volunteering produces health benefits," Grimm says. Studies find that people who regularly volunteer have lower depression rates, recover more quickly from illnesses and may even live longer.

Several Iowa cities ranked very high among communities nationwide for volunteerism, including Iowa City at number-two, Waterloo at number-six and Des Moines, tenth. Cedar Rapids ranked 17th for volunteers nationally while Davenport was 58th. Grimm says Iowans "get it" when it comes to the values of volunteering.

"People gain new skills when they volunteer, they expand their social networks, they help with all kinds of potential career opportunities…it helps them with a new job," Grimm says. "Volunteering can produce all kinds of important benefits for the community and for the individual who serves."

To learn more, visit the Volunteering in America website