Projects in All 50 States Mark First Time 9/11 Will Be Officially Recognized as a National Day of Service and Remembrance
Washington, DC - Americans across the country will honor the victims and heroes of the 9/11 tragedy by serving their neighbors and communities as part of the first-ever federally recognized September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance.
Service projects marking the eight year anniversary of 9/11 will take place in all 50 states, ranging from food drives and home repairs to neighborhood cleanups and disaster preparation activities. In many areas, volunteers will honor veterans, soldiers, or first responders by collecting donations, assembling care packages, and writing thank you letters.
“Eight years ago, the tragic events of that Tuesday morning inspired Americans to come together in a remarkable spirit of unity and compassion,” said President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in a message urging Americans to serve on 9/11. “In that same spirit, we call on all Americans to join in service on September 11 and honor the heroes of that dark day as well as the brave men and women in uniform who continue to protect our country at home and abroad.”
September 11 marks the end of the summer phase of President Obama's United We Serve initiative and its transition to a long-term, sustained effort. Since the launch of United We Serve in June, Americans have responded enthusiastically to the President's call to service by replenishing food banks, preventing summer reading loss, supporting veterans and military families, and meeting other needs.
More than 250,000 volunteer opportunities and 2,200 service stories have been posted on Serve.gov, the website created by the Corporation for National and Community Service to support United We Serve, which also lists volunteer opportunities and do-it-yourself project ideas for September 11.
“September 11 is both a time to remember the victims and heroes of 9/11 and to honor their memory through service to others,” said Nicola Goren, Acting CEO of the Corporation. “The President has called on all Americans to make service a part of their daily lives, and we hope September 11 will be a catalyst for service on the day and throughout the year.”
The September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance is the culmination of an effort originally launched in 2002 by 9/11 family members and support groups, led by the organization MyGoodDeed, who worked to establish the service day as a way to honor those who died and to rekindle the spirit of unity and compassion that followed the attacks. September 11 was officially recognized as a National Day of Service and Remembrance for the first time this year by the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, passed with strong bipartisan support and signed into law by President Obama in April.
“The anniversary of 9/11 is always a very personal day of sadness and reflection for me and my family, but it can also be a day when the nation comes together to embrace once more the spirit of compassion that helped our family and the entire 9/11 community see us through the very dark days following the attacks,” said Jay Winuk, who co-founded MyGoodDeed with David Paine and whose firefighter brother Glenn Winuk was killed in the attacks. “Rightly so the anniversary of September 11 will finally become a national day of service and remembrance and such a designation not only pays appropriate tribute to those who were lost and those who rose in service, but also provides a constructive and meaningful way forward for our nation.”
Among the hundreds of 9/11 projects taking place across the nation are the following:
Washington, DC: More than 2,000 volunteers will serve through more than 65 projects organized by Serve DC and Greater DC Cares including a project with the VA Medical Center to honor veterans by capturing stories for the Veterans' History Project, creating gifts for the residents, cleaning vehicles used to transport the veterans, and beautifying the center's grounds. Read more.
New York City: Among dozens of projects across the city, volunteers will revitalize Jenny's Garden in Riverside Park and join in literacy projects with students at the A. Philip Randolph School. In the evening, a celebrity-studded tribute to 9/11 victims and heroes at the Beacon Theatre organized by MyGoodDeed and ServiceNation will feature Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Governor David Paterson, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, actor Gary Sinise, talk-show host Jimmy Fallon, the Harlem Boys and Girls Choir, and singer-songwriters John Ondrasik, Gavin DeGraw and The Roots, among others. Read more.
Boston: Volunteers will gather on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway to stuff packages and write letters to military personnel serving overseas and donate items for the Massachusetts Military Heroes' Fund Basic Needs Program, which is building two homes for Bay State veterans. Read more.
Washington: In Seattle, the United Way of King County is marshalling 9,000 volunteers, including 4,000 Microsoft employees, who will serve on projects ranging from habitat restoration and neighborhood cleanups to renovating a child care center. Read more.
Maine: Community volunteers and Senior Corps and AmeriCorps members will join Gov. John E. Baldacci and filmmaker Aron Gaudet to create a picnic area and urban garden for families that are transitioning out of homelessness at the Park Wood Transitional Housing area in Bangor. Read more.
Illinois: The White Sox are sponsoring a day of service September 10 at a high school on the south side of Chicago, starting with a rally at U.S. Cellular Field, followed by a day of painting and refurbishing at the high school. Read more.
Tennessee: More than 200 United Way volunteers are expected to sort at least 10,000 donated food items at Nashville's Sommet Center in the morning, then distribute the donations to 23 local agencies in the afternoon. Read more.
North Carolina: At various cities throughout the state, more than 500 AmeriCorps members and volunteers will participate will collect and assemble “Connection Packages” with school supplies, stationary, disposable cameras, and other tools to help children communicate with parents or family members who are stationed overseas.
West Virginia: Individuals and groups around the state are collecting non-perishable food items and will drop off their food collections to one of the designated drop-off points on September 11. Read more.
Several national organizations are planning events, including the American Legion, which has organized 15 Freedom Walks across the country to commemorate the lives lost on September 11; and the Up2Us Coalition, which has planned sports-related service projects including reclaiming a soccer field in Washington DC and distributing new books and offering tennis lessons at a school in the Bronx.
Many employers, small and large, are also participating in the service day. GlaxoSmithKline employees will lead discussions with school children at the Harlem Children's Zone on H1N1 prevention and other healthy lifestyle topics. Hasbro, Inc., employees will assemble supplies for families of people with HIV and AIDS in Zambia and birthday kits for homeless children in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Target, Inc., is marshalling its Target Property Development team to design school library makeover projects at 16 schools across the country.