Research consistently shows that the act of giving is its own reward.

A study in 2007, for example, found that donating to charities spikes “neural activity in areas linked to reward processing,” and that if the gift is given voluntarily, then the neural activity increases even more, producing a feel-good state for the body called “warm glow.”

Science may explain the motivation to give/help others in almost Pavlovian terms, but in focusing on the human mind, these studies fail the human heart. After all, what motivates and drives two area families to give of their “time and treasure” is more than the warm glow, but the longtime and even life-long desire to make the world better by making their community better.

More than 20 years ago, Ramy Eidi founded Eidi Properties, his now hugely successful Toledo-based commercial real estate investment and management company that owns and operates 40 shopping centers in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. And while Mr. Eidi’s fledgling business was the realization of a dream, it also was the beginning of a difficult reality, with several significant and daunting obstacles to overcome in those early years. And so he turned to divine help, offering a personal guarantee.

“I made a vow and promise to God,” he said, “that as things became easier and as we flourished and as I flourished in my business career, that I would always give back to the community we live in and to those things that are important to my family and dear to us.”

Jonathan Swift wrote “promises and pie crusts are made to be broken,” but Mr. Eidi, 50, has kept his pledge again and again, even when it wasn’t so easy.

In 2008, with the economy lurching into what became the Great Recession, Mr. Eidi purchased land in the Lebanese village where his late father was born and raised, with plans to build a medical clinic. More than a decade later, that two-story medical facility, the Mehdi “Danny” Eidi Centre, is now run by UNICEF.

“It was truly a gift from my father and for my father,” he said. The clinic was also the first of many major financial gifts from Mr. Eidi and his wife, Faye, including a $1.5 million donation to a ProMedica Health initiative for low-income families.

For those charitable efforts and many others (the Toledo Children’s Hospital Foundation, Family House, Diabetes Youth Services, the Posada Emergency Shelter), Mr. and Mrs. Eidi were awarded 2019 Philanthropists of the Year by the ProMedica Foundation.

As his business has prospered, Mr. Eidi said, giving has become “second nature” for him, his wife, and their three sons.

“It comes, you give. It comes, you give. It’s mandatory in my opinion. You can’t expect to have a great career and not give back,” he said.

Mr. Eidi said when he was younger he believed that his charitable donations were to be given quietly. Only later did he learn there was a reason to tell others.

“A spiritual leader and mentor said that what you do becomes an example to others and when God gives to you, you should not be ashamed with the good you do with that,” he said. “If God gives to you and you give back, it’s OK to let it be known in the hopes that others will follow.”