Most adult Americans remember where they were when the news broke about the first jet crashing into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Most probably remember the helplessness that accompanied the shock in the days following 9/11. Beyond joining the military, there was little that could be done aside from attending candlelight vigils and making donations to blood banks. By 2002 organizations such as MyGoodDeed recognized the need to turn frustration into focus, and within a few short years the idea of honoring 9/11 through volunteer efforts grew into theSeptember 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance.
While the world-changing events and aftermath of that day will never be forgotten, Congress’s 2009 designation of Sept. 11 as a nationally recognized day of service created an annual reminder to make giving back or helping out a priority. President Obama’s United We Serve initiative offers tools to help find or create localized volunteer opportunities at serve.gov, but there are countless ways to offer aid to veterans or make communities better. Las Vegas is in the midst of trying to get its homeless vets housed, for example, and organizations such ascaridadcharity.com work proactively at street level to make that happen.
Shelters and food pantries always welcome volunteers, while socks and underwear are a constant need for homeless. A disabled neighbor may need assistance with a home repair. A park could use a group clean up. Schools need supplies. Even getting involved with The Smith Center via one of its volunteer or support opportunities helps move the community in a positive direction. (We also try to make a difference by volunteering at other organizations. In the photo above you can see The Smith Center staff spending a day serving Three Square food bank.)
Ultimately, if volunteering becomes a habit as a result of honoring veteran’s on National Day of Service the world can only become that much better of a place – especially for the generations that will inherit it next.
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