Howard County is fortunate to have so many groups and organizations committed to bettering the lives of our residents, whether it’s through cultural offerings, educational opportunities or providing a path to a better life for those who need assistance.

We are all working, often together, toward a greater good. Columbia Association’s (CA) mission is to work every day in hundreds of ways to make our community an even better place to live, work and play. Yet, those hundreds of ways in which CA works still can’t cover everything that it takes to make Columbia and Howard County a community of choice.

That’s why we seek partnerships, collaborate and cooperate with many other stakeholders in the community, support organizations who promote the social welfare of people in Columbia, and encourage residents of our community to help these organizations — and each other.

One form of support from CA has been more than $1 million in grants during the past three fiscal years to organizations that contribute to the quality of life in Columbia and therefore enhance CA’s mission and help meet CA’s vision.

These grants have included, for example, scholarships each year for six students who demonstrate an exemplary record of community service; support for the county’s beloved 4th of July celebration at Lake Kittamaqundi; support for the highly popular Columbia Festival of the Arts; funding that helps Neighbor Ride transport seniors so they can remain active and connected; and funding for the Community Foundation of Howard County and its subsequent grants to other programs in the community.

In addition, CA passes on a portion of annual charge income to the village associations, which use these funds to foster the growth of community, including providing programming and events, and ensuring that architectural covenants are upheld.

The Volunteer Center Serving Howard County is a CA program that formed out of a partnership with various nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Since 2001, its mission has been to connect those who wish to serve the community with registered nonprofits and governmental organizations that are seeking volunteers.

Every year at about this time, the Volunteer Center releases its Annual Guide to Giving. The 2015–16 edition spotlights more than 30 nonprofit and public agencies that serve Howard County and the region — and whose missions are fulfilled, thanks to help from residents of the community. Take a look at the Annual Guide to Giving at www.VolunteerHoward.org/guidetogiving.

Being a giving member of the community also can be accomplished on a one-on-one basis, whether it’s done through organized volunteering or just by being a great neighbor. CA is home for the Columbia Community Exchange time banking program, a service exchange network. For every hour you spend helping a fellow member, you earn a time credit that can then be spent to receive an hour of another member’s time or service. Learn more by visiting www.ColumbiaAssociation.org/TimeBanks.

This is the season of giving, but remember, what makes Howard County so fortunate is that so many individuals here continue to give in different ways throughout the year.

We all know that the act of giving can be quite rewarding.

E-mail milton.matthews@columbiaassociation.org with questions/comments.