After what he describes as an outpouring of support after 9/11, New Yorker Jeff Parness wanted to find a way to give back.
"I wanted to make a bigger statement," he told CNN. "I wanted to let people know that New Yorkers will never forget what people did for us after 9/11."
Parness' son, Evan, encouraged him as well. After hearing a report of California's devastating wildfires in 2003, Evan asked his dad if he could donate his old toys to the victims.
Springing to action, Parness loaded up a truck with supplies and toys and delivered them to the disaster stricken area. His truck wore a banner that said, "New York Says Thank You."
Inspired by the experience, he knew he had to do more. So he set up a foundation -- using his truck's slogan as its name.
A year later, he returned to California for the New York Says Thank You Foundation's first job -- rebuilding homes destroyed by wildfire outside of San Diego, Calif. Since then, Parness has organized a group of workers around September of every year to help others the way his community was helped.