Just two years after MyGoodDeed.org secured September 11 as a national day of service under federal law, the nonprofit is gearing up for the single largest day of charitable action in United States history.
Driving this momentous service initiative is the nonprofit’s founders Jay Winuk, who lost a brother in the World Trade Center attacks, and David Paine. Though devastated by the tragedies, both men were moved by the outpouring of support, love and generosity they witnessed in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.
Determined to unite the nation around that same giving spirit, the organization has partnered with the HandsOn Network, the country’s leading volunteer organization, to engage an estimated 33 million people in giving back to their communities on the tenth anniversary of September 11.
But the commemoration doesn’t stop once volunteers complete their service project. Those who choose to honor the day with helping others can share their story on 9/11Day.org and dedicate their hard work to a victim who died on that tragic day.
The goal is to inspire Americans to "observe 9/11 by taking time to help someone else in need," the founders told the Huffington Post. “Remember by doing.”
How will you remember September 11?
Restored with the help of people nationwide, the National 9/11 Flag has been touring America for several years and will become part of the permanent collection of the National September 11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center. Through the New York Says Thank You Foundation, you can sponsor a stitch on the flag for $5.
Thousands of people will stand united along the Hudson River starting in Battery Park, joining hands in solidarity for 9/11. Volunteers are needed to help with check-in and traffic control. A number of community volunteer events will also take place in the area on September 10 and 11 to benefit youth, police, homeless and other groups. Learn more at the HandinHand website.
The Pace University Community and Volunteer Mobilization AmeriCorps program will host "Chinatown C.A.R.E.S" on Saturday, Sept. 10 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Broome Street Pit at Sara D. Roosevelt Park. The program, established in 2002, will help rebuild Chinatown and the Lower East Side by providing ESL, public health, youth and other programs.
Muslims For Life is holding blood drives nationwide at mosques and prayer centers across the U.S. to honor the victims of 9/11. The goal is to collect 10,000 units of blood -- to save 30,000 lives -- during the month.
Jersey Cares is offering special 9/11 volunteer opportunities from Sept. 8 through Sept. 12. The organization is looking for 1,000 volunteers to participate in more than 35 different projects. Help prepare disaster readiness kits or serve hot food to the needy. Get creative when you plant 9/11 memorial gardens, paint murals or build patriotic picnic tables. Learn about specific locations throughout the state at Jersey Cares.
HandsOn Greater DC Cares will round up 10,000 volunteers to give back during three days of service Friday to Sunday. Opportunities include crafting organic seed globes of flowers to be planted around town. Volunteers can also put together educational tools for elementary and middle school students, which will be packaged and given to local schools across Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. The nation's capital is also making a big push for 7,000 students to partake in a letter-writing campaign to troops and their families. Find out more details about these events and other service opportunities at GreaterDCCares.org
To honor 9/11, the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund will offer a range of service opportunities. Help create 1,000 military care packages for servicemen and women, "plant" flags at the Boston Public Garden or volunteer to unload donations for needy families. Find more details at Massmilitaryheroes.com.
California steps up to help out with a number of major initiatives taking place throughout the state. L.A. remembers, for example, offers up a host of opportunities from participating in a food drive with Big Sunday to partaking in a memorial service, followed by an interfaith prayer gathering. Los Angelenos can also build museum fixtures and models honoring the US military to be featured in Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum.
Over in the Bay Area, locals commit the entire month to a "Season of Service” to help commemorate 9/11. On Sept. 11, 500 volunteers, veterans, and first responders gather at the Veterans War Memorial to partake in community service projects and pay tribute to those who died. In Santa Rosa, Pacific Air Coast Museum visitors can honor those who died at the 9/11 exhibit, which features the first fighter aircraft to arrive over New York City on September 11.
HandsOn Greater Portland has locals covered on September 11 when it comes to giving back to the City of Roses. Remove English ivy that threatens to kill Fort Tryon Park’s native plants, grow fresh vegetables to help fight hunger, or make blankets for families of troops and veterans. For a complete listing of available service opportunities, visit the HandsOn Greater Portland.
Ten years ago, 30,000 people gathered around the international fountain at the Seattle Center to commemorate September 11. This year, Seattle Works invites locals to partake in moments of silence and reflection in that same spot from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and make blankets to be donated to the Red Cross. Get involved with Habitat for Humanity by registering for a new volunteer orientation taking place on Sept. 10 in Tacoma, so you can start building homes for those in need. To find other volunteer opportunities in the area, visit the HandsOn Network.
Iowans have a range of opportunities to partake in meaningful acts of service to commemorate September 11. Locals can sew Freedom Quilts for family members who have lost loved ones, rev up their motorcycles for an Honor Ride, or participate in a 9/11 memorial. Find details at Volunteer Iowa.
In the Twin Cities, which consistently tops the list for volunteer rate nationwide, about 800 community members will commemorate the Day of Service by repairing homes of veterans and military families. Volunteers also have the opportunity to help repair the damage in North Minneapolis, caused by the tornado in May. Find details at Challenge.gov.
In the Windy City, Chicago Cares is coordinating numerous service events for volunteers to honor the 9/11 anniversary. The city's largest volunteer opportunity -- hosted by the White Sox—calls for about 500 volunteers to help transform McClellan Elementary School by painting murals, installing new structures and helping with other reconstruction tasks, according to CBS. Operation Support Our Troops Illinois invites seniors, 55 and up, to write letters of thanks to the military men and women currently serving our country.Honoring service members continues in Bridgeview, Ill. where the Arab American Family Services plant trees at Commissioners Park.
The city of Montgomery is going so far as to say that service trumps work when it comes to commemorating 9/11. Service opportunities begin Friday, with the city urging businesses to allow three hours off for employees to give back. The 9/11 signature project offers service projects, safety training, disaster awareness and preparedness information to benefit disabled and homeless veterans, seniors, youth and at-risk families. The town continues to come together for volunteer projects dedicated to veterans, service members and first responders. Find details at HandsOn River Region.
The Texas Rangers and the Volunteer Center of North Texas will host the third annual North TexasVolunteer Challenge (NTVC) as part of the National Day of Service and Remembrance. This four-hour service project brings together people to raise funds for more than 1,700 nonprofit organizations that represent a range of causes.
Volunteer Florida aims to mobilize residents of all ages to engage in the spirit of service that brought people together in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. In Broward County, volunteers can participate in service projects at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. In Lauderhill, Fla. locals can share their feelings of gratitude by writing letters to soldiers and 9/11 first responders. Those up for an athletic challenge can run a 5K in Fort Lauderdale to honor first responders and military families on Sept. 10. For a full list of service opportunities, check out Florida Remembers.