IT'S BEEN A GOOD YEAR FOR HOME builders. In fact, it's been a good 10 years. And many of us have come into December thinking about how we can share our good fortune. The past 10 years—a decade of prosperity—have made it possible for us to demonstrate our generosity and participate in the enhancement of our communities.

Each year, the home building industry contributes millions of dollars in cash, building materials, supplies, and countless volunteer hours to community charities through local community service projects. Home builders make a difference every day in our communities through construction, repair, renovation, and beautification projects; student scholarships and grants; charitable fundraising; rebuilding after natural disasters; and toy, food, clothing, and blood drives.

Because of the industry's strong performance, home builders are in the position to donate money—and often, lots of it. But it's the more complex alternative of using time, talent, and money that interests us most at John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods.

John Wieland is chairman and chief creative officer of John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods. What's also really exciting is the opportunity to provide a giving opportunity for the numerous suppliers and trade contractors who work with us each day. This year, in partnership with our trade contractors, suppliers, and HomeAid Atlanta, we built a 10,000-square-foot, one million dollar transitional residence for women and children. We donated it without any cost or debt to the Atlanta Union Mission, the city's largest agency serving the homeless and substance dependent. Our total out-of-pocket costs were less than $200,000, plus our management time.

We split the work up and relied on outside help too. For example, three different electricians donated their services in order to get all of the electrical work on the building done without cost. We even had trade contractors who did not work for us drive by the site and offer to donate their services. And our employees were given volunteer time off to help with such chores as painting and cleanup.

There was a real sense of joy when the building was finished and when the 11 deserving families were moved into their well-furnished apartments. Many of the people who volunteered time and services expressed real joy in being able to help those in need. But what was amazing was that they contributed simply because we asked. What was in it for them? Goodwill.

So to the managers of America's home building firms, I propose the following: Pick your project, recruit your trade contractors and suppliers, and I'll wager that they will be delighted at the opportunity to share their good fortune with others under your leadership.

We've done back yard playhouses for charity raffles, built a building at our zoo for small animals, and partnered numerous times with Habitat for Humanity. And it's all been worth it. No matter how big or small a builder you are, there's a way to team up with the trade contractors and suppliers that you support all year long. Together, you can leverage your combined resources and skills to do something special for the benefit of many.

While there is still plenty of time to make a generous financial contribution to a worthwhile charitable organization in your community, it is clearly too late to complete any ambitious project this year.

January is knocking on the door. But December is the perfect month to begin planning projects for next year.