/PRNewswire/ -- With President Obama planning to formally declare September 11th for the first time as a federally recognized National Day of Service and Remembrance at the urging of the 9/11 community and Congress, thousands of organizations around the nation -- nonprofits, employers and faith based groups and others -- are already mobilizing hundreds of thousands of Americans to engage in service and perform good deeds in observance of the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
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 -- finally securing passage of legislation in April 2009, within the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which authorized the creation of the 9/11 observance. 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. This year, tens of thousands have visited the organization's website, 911dayofservice.org, since its early August launch to pledge their good deeds. Thousands have also posted their service plans for 9/11 at the federal government's volunteer service website, serve.gov.
In Huron, Ohio, Stephen Petrovich will place calls to emergency workers and first responders to thank them for their service. In Albany, New York, Michelle Garcia and the Sisters of Omega Phi Beta Sorority will dedicate themselves to serving the community during the week of 9/11, and to raising awareness among the University at Albany community to get involved. John Henry and Ellie Labriola of Southbury, Connecticut set up a lemonade stand the week before school began and raised more than $100 to donate to a school uniform drive for other schoolchildren in need. 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. 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.
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."
In addition to the personal pledges of service and good deeds, 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 plans to proclaim 9/11 as a citywide day of service. Arizona's 9/11 Remembrance and National Day of Service Event will host four days of activities at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall from September 10 - 13, including displays of The 9/11 Memorial Wall designed by Lisa Vella of Scottsdale, Arizona, and the The National Unity Flag designed by Randy Cooney of Phoenix, Arizona. In addition, local and national community service agencies will be on hand to provide the public with 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. With the help of partner New York Cares, MyGoodDeed will also sponsor two service events of its own in Harlem - where more than 100 volunteers will come together to work with school children at A. Phillip Randolph Elementary School, and another 35 volunteers will help to revitalize Jenny's Garden at Riverside Park.
9/11 Families Also to Engage in Service
For the first time, the annual "reading of the names" ceremony held each year at Ground Zero in New York City will include volunteers as well as 9/11 family members, in commemoration of 9/11 becoming a National Day of Service and Remembrance. Winuk, whose brother was post-humously awarded the 9/11 Heroes Medal of Valor by the U.S. Department of Justice over the weekend, is one of only three family members scheduled to speak during the ceremony.
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 (ASYMCA), the leading private provider of educational, recreational, social and religious support services to junior enlisted military personnel and their families, 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 help children cope during a parent's deployment.
"Organized service opportunities are available in all 50 states and across the world for those interested in giving back on 9/11, which is absolutely wonderful," said Winuk. "But we believe that even a small gesture - a single good deed - is all it takes to make a difference. Simply put, anyone who wants to give back on 9/11 or any day of the year can do so. No deed is too small."
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