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Mission-Abby residents continue generosity streak

Residents of Mission and Abbotsford were the most generous donors to charitable organizations in 2010 for the ninth year in a row, according to a new report by Statistics Canada.

A total of 25,650 people in the census metropolitan area donated $73.7 million, an average of $620 per donation, a 5.1 per cent increase from the previous year despite ongoing turmoil in the economy.

This was well above second place Calgary and Victoria, both with a median donation of $390.

Pamela Willis, executive director of the Women's Resource Society of the Fraser Valley, said she's not surprised by the news, and that community response to a particular need is "immediate and full."

So, why are people in Mission and Abbotsford so generous?

Willis says there isn't one easy answer, but believes people in the two communities are very aware of social issues and understanding that social services can't carry the burden alone.

"We also have a large faith-based presence, which has a commitment to service," she added.

Mission-Abbotsford represents a 5.5 per cent contribution to B.C.'s $1.28 billion donor total, despite representing just 3.6 per cent of the province's donor population.

Phil Hope, coordinator for the Mission Christmas Bureau for the past dozen years, doesn't know why, but donations continue to pour in.

"For the amount of people that live in Mission, and the amount of help they give to the Christmas Bureau, there's so much help and so much generosity from such a small place," he said.

Even in the years when donations were expected to drop because of a bad economy, Missionites were more generous than ever, he said.

But Hope cautioned that while Mission always comes through, he's "biting his nails" until the very end.

"If they stop today,  we're sunk."

Willis said a tremendous level of support from volunteers and a strong commitment from the business community is also a big reason for success.

"Without their commitment and their engagement, this community would look a lot different."

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