Is charity a universal virtue?

or merely a cultural one?

I grew up in middle-class, Protestant America. In that environment, I was taught that as soon as they had enough to fill their basic needs (and sometimes before), good people gave to those less fortunate than they. While I heard disagreements on how much someone should give, the channels that they should use to give, who the recipients of giving should be, or whether the government should be involved in giving, there was never a disagreement as to giving at all. In other words “10% is too much,” “I gave at the office,” “I think giving to organizations does more good than giving directly to people,” “I give my time,” or “it’s not charity if the government makes you do it” were socially acceptable phrases. “I don’t give at all” was not and was an indication that the speaker was raised by wolves. I assumed that was universally true.

However, recently, I’ve met people who did not grow up in middle-class, Protestant America, who re-act to stories of philanthropy as though the concept of charity is bizarre, un-understandable, and utterly alien. (While I might comment on the amount of generosity, they seem shocked that anyone would give anything at all) The people I’ve met don’t show other indications of a lupine upbringing, so I’m wondering if that simply isn’t valued in other cultures?