09/11/2012 05:56 pm ET Updated Nov 11, 2012

The National Day of Service -- Let's Come Together and Do Our Part

One of the things that make America such a great country is our proud history of working together to overcome difficult times. It started with the founding of our nation 236 years ago, and it continues to this day. As individuals, we may not always see eye to eye -- the current political season provides a clear example of how reasonable people can disagree -- but when the time comes to pull together, no other nation does it better than the citizens of the United States of America.

I am reminded of this desire to serve others as we once again mark the anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. It has now been 11 years since that dark day, and none of us will ever forget where we were or how our nation pulled together in the days and weeks that followed. As devastated as I was by the attacks in New York and Washington, DC, I was equally proud by the ensuing patriotism we displayed. People of all walks of life stood together with a renewed purpose and volunteered to help with rescue and recovery efforts. Others enlisted in the military to serve our nation.

Americans took the time and effort to help people they would never have met under other circumstances. We at Goodwill are lucky enough to see this continued sense of purpose and compassion in our work, and with the people we serve every day. And, as a national activation partner for the Got Your 6 initiative, we are witness to the wonderful spirit and commitment exhibited this year as part of The September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance. This presidentially declared national day of service is the culmination of an effort originally launched in 2002 by 9/11 family members and support groups, who worked to establish the service day as a forward-looking means to honor 9/11 victims, survivors and others who rose up in service in response to the attacks.

In 2009, Congress designated September 11th as a National Day of Service and Remembrance and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) with supporting this effort across the country. This year, CNCS is working with numerous organizations to implement one of the largest days of charitable service in U.S. history. CNCS anticipates that hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals will take part under the auspices of its two signature programs, AmeriCorps and Senior Corps, in service to and remembrance of active duty armed service members, veterans and their families. CNCS service day collaborator, MyGoodDeed (now known as 9/11 Day), estimates that more than 33 million individuals around the country participated in the day of service last year.

Goodwill agencies around the country are once again doing their part this year. Just a few examples are listed below.

• Goodwill Industries of Big Bend (Tallahassee, FL) colleagues will serve in a variety of volunteer roles in their community throughout the Florida panhandle. In addition, Goodwill has donated books, DVDs, magazines and other items that will be included in care packages for our troops.

• Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois and Wisconsin Stateline Area (Rockford, IL) will be hosting volunteers, including 30 members of the executive leadership team of a local health care system. The volunteers will assemble Employment Kits, which are designed to help area job seekers have the tools and resources they need to find work.

• Goodwill of Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia (Maple Shade, NJ) will take part in a
beautification effort along Main Street in Medford, NJ -- a town that has suffered through difficult budget cutbacks.

• Goodwill of Greater Washington (DC) will host volunteers from AARP at one of its Northern Virginia locations. The associates will assist with various aspects of donation center operations.

These activities provide just a small picture of the kinds of efforts taking place on the National Day of Service. Your service does not have to be in grand or grueling activities. The point is to serve others around you, to do your small part, as we once again transform a dark day in our nation's history into a unifying event that we can be proud of for years to come.