A recently released study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy lists Collegedale as the fourth most charitable ZIP code in the nation for contributions made by people who earn more than $200,000 annually.
Of the city's less than 9,000 residents approximately 1.8 percent of the population can be considered wealthy by that standard, and those residents routinely donate approximately 29.6 percent of their income each year to charitable causes, according to the study.
Collegedale residents who earned less than $200,000 annually donated approximately 18 percent of their income, it stated.
"You'll notice that the study shows states with deep religious roots like the South are more likely to give," said Ooltewah's Samaritan Center Director of Development Linda Shriver-Buckner of the study. "Most Christians are encouraged to give 10 percent of their income as a tithe.
"There is a real culture of giving and giving to church in this area and around 20 of the churches in our area give to the Samaritan Center monthly. Oftentimes their tithe goes to the church and then comes back to the community through us."
She said the center's annual donations both in cash and items for resale in the on-site thrift store total more than $2 million each year and there are around 1,000 donors in Collegedale.
"People around here are passionate about helping their neighbors," said Shriver-Buckner.
According to her, that statement is proven by the fact that the Samaritan Center's total donations last year increased by 129 percent. Some of that she attributes to the tornadoes, but she said Hamilton County residents consistently donate more than the national average.
The study, based on tax return information take from 2008, also determined that Tennessee ranks fourth overall as the most generous state, with the average household donating 6.6 percent of its discretionary income to charitable causes. Yet Tennessee is listed by www.census.gov as No. 39 on a list of wealthy states.
According to the study, lower income people generally donate more discretionary income to charitable causes than the wealthy and wealthy people who live in economically diverse communities are also more likely to donate larger percents of their discretionary income to charitable causes.
Shriver-Buckner said her experience at the Samaritan Center supports that data.
"In this community I'd say we have from the poorest to the richest," she said. "When people live in affluent areas they aren't exposed to the way other people live. That's not the case here."
For more information about the study visit www.philanthropy.com.