Nearly 500 philanthropists gathered Wednesday at Trident Technical College to honor those in the community who have been especially generous with their time and resources.

Three awards were given at the annual celebration of National Philanthropy Day, which began in 1986 as a way to celebrate philanthropists and their contributions. The event is supported by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and hundreds of nonprofits nationwide.

More than 100 communities and 50,000 people worldwide were expected to take part in various Philanthropy Day events.

The goal of giving should be to invest in all people’s talents and potential and in building personal relationships with them rather than simply throwing money at needs, said the Rev. Bill Stanfield, executive director of Metanoia and the event’s keynote speaker.

“We all have gifts, skills and abilities if they are brought to bear,” Stanfield said.

The local event was held by the South Carolina Lowcountry Chapter of Association of Fundraising Professionals, which presented awards to:

Paul and Louise Kohlheim, named Outstanding Individual Philanthropists for donating resources along with their time and expertise to initiatives such as the Boys & Girls Club of the Trident Area, the American Red Cross and the Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative, an effort to improve education.

“We are very honored and humbled by this recognition,” Paul Kohlheim said, adding that the nearly 500 others gathered Wednesday proved that philanthropy is a “team sport.”

The Boeing Co., named Outstanding Corporate Philanthropist for, among other things, investing $15 million into the community during its first four years here. Its employees also volunteer to help with everything from childhood obesity to the Lowcountry Food Bank to the College of Charleston’s farm-to-school program.

“Boeing is well-known for having very talented employees, and applying those skills is often more valuable than a check,” said George Stevens, president and CEO of the Coastal Community Foundation.

It is easy to hand over money, said Jack Jones, vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina, but more than half of Boeing’s employees volunteer outside of work. “And that to me is most impressive,” Jones added.

Keys for Hope, named the new Outstanding Youth Philanthropist. The effort began as a school project among several Mount Pleasant children who wanted to raise money for Crisis Ministries’ homeless shelter.

They decided to decorate recycled keys and sell them to symbolize the importance of having keys to a home. Their efforts support the shelter’s current building expansion in downtown Charleston.

The keys go for $5 at local stores, and so far have raised $48,000 out of goal of $1.6 million. A group of 10 girls who are instrumental in Keys for Hope received a standing ovation at Wednesday’s event.

They described wanting to help the shelter by doing something rather than simply asking others to donate money.

“We can’t thank you enough,” said Stacey Denaux, CEO of Crisis Ministries. “You inspire us every day.”

Reach Jennifer Hawes at 937-5563 or follow her on Twitter at @JenBerryHawes.