Microsoft is celebrating 30 years of giving, a huge milestone for the Redmond-based software company.

At a press conference Thursday, the company also announced that it has given $1 billion in donations to more than 31,000 non-profit groups. From helping the homeless, mentoring youth, volunteering with United Way and donating to disaster aid, Microsoft has given time and money that has had a huge impact around the world.

We stood up in times of crisis and helped the people in Japan, in Pakistan, in Haiti, said CEO Steve Ballmer.

It s a culture of generosity that was started by co-founder Bill Gates, who credits his parents for setting an example of philanthropy and encouraged him to start a giving program.

I was a little reluctant to distract people from writing code day and night, said Gates.

One organization in the Puget Sound region that has benefited from Microsoft s generosity is the United Way of King County. At this year s Day of Caring, 6,000 Microsoft employees volunteered at various projects, making up half of the total number of volunteers.

Over the years, Microsoft and its employees have contributed $460 million to United Way campaigns, said Jon Fine, President and CEO of United Way of King County.

Just for being there Thursday, United Way and Seattle Children's were among the organizations that walked away with $25,000 each.

When I heard, I kind of got teary because it means that we are reaching families where it matters to them, said Helen Sernett, Director of Development at Seattle Children s.

Microsoft s annual employee giving campaign is a year-round effort, but there is a special focus on giving during the month of October at its Redmond campus and offices around the world.

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