The unbelievable generosity of Northern Tasmanians has raised a record $119,334 as part of The Examiner's Winter Relief Appeal.
Last year the appeal raised $72,000 and, while still impressive, this year's total was a 67 per cent increase.
In a year in which the dreaded "r" word has been tossed around like a tennis ball, and the unemployment rate has risen across the country, the Winter Relief Appeal has raised the highest amount in its 62 year history.
The Examiner took in six donations of $5000 or more, with the top donation of $20,524 coming from Andrew Palmer's Cha Cha for Charity danceathon.
The sheer number donations was something to behold, all in all staggering 233 donations were received, with an average of well over $500 per donation.
Despite Northern Tasmanians doing it hard across the board, why did they find donations so easily forthcoming?
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A neural link between generosity and happiness has been well established, and perhaps it is a matter of finding a way to get that serotonin flowing.
University of Tasmania clinical psychologist, Kimberly Norris said happiness receptors in our brain start firing when we give ourselves up for others.
"There is a well documented relationship between generosity and brain function. Even just thinking about donating makes the brain light up," Dr Norris said.
This is an effect that can actually be seen during scans of the brain.
And perhaps that's exactly what is needed during the winter months, with Dr Norris revealing this connection has been coined the "warm glow".
Megan Alessandrini, an adjunct lecturer of public policy at the University of Tasmania, wrote a paper which connected donating, selflessness and social connection and said the overwhelming generosity of Tasmanians could very well be another example of that.
"This year many people have probably faced feelings of isolation that they may not have encountered before and donating is a way of feeling connection to people around you," Dr Alessandrini said.
"But also acts of generosity where they might say 'people are doing it really hard, there are people worse off than me' and chuck $20 in instead of $10."
Connectedness and control are pathological needs for many of us, and both Dr Alessandrini and Dr Norris said a simple act of kindness can go some way to rebuilding the senses of belonging and identity that may have been lost this year.
"Making a donation is a selfless act but it's also something that's going to build connection and relevance for people who might be feeling a bit isolated in this global pandemic situation," Dr Alessandrini said.
"Particularly during covid, people have felt that many things are out of their control - donating gives a sense of meaning and control which amplifies the positive effects," Dr Norris said.
Nicholas Hookway, senior sociology lecturer at the University of Tasmania said right now is a precarious time for the charity industry, and any private giving can be particularly beneficial.
"Lots of organisations are struggling due to covid ... Private giving is expected to fall by as much as 20 per cent," Dr Hookway said.
Yet Tasmanians are a resilient bunch, evidenced by the record figure for this year which bucks the general trend of giving in Australia and around the world.
As part of the national picture, we rank fourth on the World Giving Index - a universal measure of charity.
Dr Alessandrini said the locality of charities encourages community members to contribute to something palpable.
"The charities [that are part of the winter appeal] operate at a local level, and that's the kind of thing that's going to make people feel like they want to be involved because they can see the results of what's happening with the donations," Dr Alessandrini said.
Dr Norris also said Tasmanians were iconically generous because of the sense of belonging that is fostered in the state.
"In Tasmania many of us think about who we know. There is a powerful effect knowing that an individual can benefit from our giving," Dr Norris said.
One of the top donors from this year, who preferred to stay anonymous, avoided the financial infringement of covid and chose to share his good fortune with those in the community.
While understated in his appraisal, he said he was not badly affected by coronavirus and liked the idea of helping someone out.
"Well, you don't feel bad about it," he said.
"Kindness is an important social value," Dr Hookway said.
Yet again, The Examiner's Winter Relief Appeal has proven that to be true.
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