Despite the recession, small businesses were generous givers in 1992, an Inc. inquiry into the eleemosynary habits of modest-sized corporations suggests. But small businesses don't all simply donate to national charities. Many express gratitude by contributing goods and services to the neighborhoods in which they prosper. Here are a few channels through which businesses enrich those communities:

Universal Pediatric Services, Des Moines (home health-care provider): Donates nursing time to care for patients whose insurance has expired.

Paper Direct, Lyndhurst, N.J. (paper distributor): Satisfies blank-paper needs of local schools and nonprofits.

Sarah's Attic, Chesaning, Mich. (gift maker): Donates inspirational china figurines to schools and churches.

Hair Club for Men, New York City (antibaldness chain): Makes wigs and contributes them to young cancer patients suffering hair loss from chemotherapy.

Textileather, Toledo (vinyl processor): Via a standing committee of four employees (no upper management) that meets quarterly, dispenses a portion of profits to local organizations.

Whole Foods Market, Austin (grocery chain): Apportions 5% of net profits annually to charities suggested by employees.

Mycogen, San Diego (biotech developer): Donates lab equipment to and helps teach science at a local high school; company scientists participate in "Shadow Days," in which students follow the scientists through their everyday duties.

Two rationales for local giving: "We want to encourage organizations to keep roots in the area," says Textileather technology director Joe Murray. "Even a small business can have a huge impact, if it focuses on one institution and supports it well," says Mycogen CEO Jerry Caulder.

-- Researched by Phaedra Hise

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