Inspired by the massive outpouring of volunteers helping out in the days and months after the World Trade Center tragedy, Congress and the President have officially declared September 11 a National Day of Service and Remembrance.
Through the website 911DayOfService.org, hundreds of thousands of people — nonprofits, citizens, employers and faith-based groups — have already pledged to do good deeds in honor of those who died in the terrorist attacks eight years ago.
Led by the 9/11 non-profit MyGoodDeed, 9/11 families and others worked for more than seven years to establish September 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance and finally secured passage of legislation in April 2009, within the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. Since that time, MyGoodDeed has organized an unprecedented coalition of organizations that have come together to engage not only Americans, but people from around the world.
Since its inception in 2002, supporters of MyGoodDeed have pledged to perform more than a million acts of service, spanning all 50 states and some 170 countries and territories. Since its August launch, tens of thousands have visited the organization’s website, 911dayofservice.org, pledging good deeds. Thousands have also posted their service plans for 9/11 at the federal government’s volunteer service website, www.serve.gov. Here are some examples:
- In Chicago, Illinois, Tiffany Bohm and her classmates will kick off a semester-long service project to collect 2,974 pairs of shoes, representing each person lost in the 9/11 attacks, to donate to a homeless shelter.
- In Huron, Ohio, Stephen Petrovich will place calls to emergency workers and first responders to thank them for their service.
- In Atlanta, Georgia, Lillie Love and her friends will put together and deliver goody baskets to fire and police stations as a way of paying tribute to the first responders who worked tirelessly on 9/11 and the days and weeks following.
MyGoodDeed was originally co-founded in 2003 by two friends, David Paine and Jay S. Winuk, following the death of Winuk’s brother, 9/11 rescuer Glenn J. Winuk, an attorney, volunteer firefighter and EMT who died in the line of duty during the collapse of the World Trade Center South Tower. Since that time, they have worked to build awareness and support for the idea.
“After seven years of hard work and advocacy by the 9/11 community and many others, we have finally achieved our goal of establishing September 11th as a National Day of Service and Remembrance through broad, bi-partisan support from across the country,” Paine said. “This year, we expect to inspire hundreds of thousands more people to commemorate the day by remembering and rekindling the spirit of unity that swept the nation in the wake of the attacks.”
Added Winuk: “I will always remember 9/11 as the day that I lost my brother Glenn. But I will also remember his sacrifice in service to others. As a volunteer firefighter, he ran into the South Tower to help those in need, instead of running for safety himself. He inspired me to start this campaign, just like so many stories of 9/11 have inspired others to give back to their communities.”
Corporations and community organizations are giving back, and in many cases, actively seeking volunteers who are looking to give back as well.
- In Scottsdale Arizona, the Mayor will proclaim 9/11 as a citywide day of service with four days of activities at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall from September 10 – 13 and information about how to get involved to help those in need.
- In Harlem, New York, employees of GlaxoSmithKline will educate more than 1,000 elementary school children and their teachers at the Harlem Children’s Zone about prevention of the H1N1 virus.
- In Boston, The Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund and Homes for Our Troops, founded with the support of the families of 9/11 victims, will meet at The Rose Kennedy Greenway in downtown Boston on September 11th for a Care Package Packing Party, and to honor former Senator Edward Kennedy. Organized in part by Christie Coombs, who lost her husband Jeff in the 9/11 attacks, volunteers are needed to write letters to service men and women overseas, pack care packages and collect donations of clothing and other items.
- In Washington DC, there are more than 50 different service events planned. Among them, the Armed Services YMCA will assemble 200 volunteers at RFK Stadium on September 11th to support Operation Kid Comfort by designing photo-transfer quilts for children of deployed service men and women to comfort children during a parent’s deployment.
Remember that even a small gesture – a single good deed for your neighbor – is all it takes to make a difference, so anyone who wants to give back on 9/11 can do so right from home. No deed is too small.
MyGoodDeed has also announced that it will host an online auction for charity to incorporate Fashion Week, featuring donations from top designers including Donna Karan, Tracy Reese, Carmen Marc Valvo, Phillip Lim, Vivenne Tam, Tommy Hilfiger and many others. More information on the auction can be found at www.911dayofservice.org/runway.
You can also read an inspiring AP feature story on the Day of Service at MSNBC.