Westfield residents donate 2.7% of their annual income to charity. That's lower 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.)
Westfield ranked 3,185 for contributions, donating $36.5 million with a median family contribution of $4,055. The median income for Westfield was $152,132.
Westfielders earning the least, in the $50,000 to $99,000 bracket, donated the greatest percentage at eight percent, while those earning between $100,000 to $199,000 contributed 3.4 percent of their income to charity. The group earning the most, $200,000 and up, donated the smallest percentage at 2 percent.
The Westfield community recently came together to show their support for one of their own. Runners took several laps around Tamaques Park in honor of Allison Lowenstein, the victim of a hit-and-run accident. A fundraising website established to benefit the Lowenstein family more than tripled its $500 goal.
Earlier in 2012, Westfielders rallied to show their support for the owners of Sound Station. The family-owned and operated South Avenue West music store perished in a six-alarm blaze that claimed five other businesses. Through fundraisers and benefit concerts, more than $16,000 was donated to Bob Larsen and Liz Walsh in an effort to help the couple rebuild.
Local businesses have also donated goods and services to families in need. Many supported the Fun Run for Alli and in May, Westfield merchants Savory Spice Shop and CoolVines cooked up a delicious way to support the family of 13-year-old Christian Panarese, born with spastic quadraplegia, in their efforts to purchase a new wheelchair. The businesses sold 300 cupcakes, prepared by pastry chef and Garwood resident Melissa Walsh. One hundred percent of the proceeds benefitted Christian's Wish.
Union County ranked 100 out of 3,115 counties surveyed in the country with a median contribution of $2,431 per household and had total contributions for that year of $291.9 million, or 4.2 percent of resident’s total income, according to the report.
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.
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."