People all across the United States and Canada gave countless hours of service on the National Day of Service and Remembrance, held every year to honor those who died during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Individuals and organizations are encouraged to participate in service on 9/11 and on the surrounding days, using JustServe.org or through connections in local communities.
Here are some of the ways individual communities gave back this year.
In Utah, more than 60,000 people of all ages participated in over 300 service and cleanup projects on Saturday, Sept. 9, reported a news release on ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Volunteer service opportunities were provided to cities, counties, schools and more.
“We are deeply grateful to the tens of thousands of volunteers who participated in the 9/11 Day of Service,” said Elder Kevin W. Pearson, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Church’s Utah Area. “Your collective efforts to beautify our neighborhoods are awe-inspiring.”
In West Jordan, more than 400 community volunteers gathered at the Jordan River Parkway to clear trash and debris.
In Centerville, volunteers made quilts at 20 quilting stations for teen centers and refugee centers in northern Utah.
And in the South Salt Lake area, volunteers assembled thousands of hygiene kits and school snack kits through the Granite Education Foundation.
Food insecurity wasn’t the only community issue that Utahns addressed. In Provo, hundreds of people participated in a food and eyeglasses drive, the BYU Daily Universe reported.
Prior to the event, 75,000 food items and 60,000 eyeglasses were donated to the non-profit groups, Painter said.
More than 400 people attended the drive and helped build individual food packs for young students. Each pack contained seven different items that would be given to students who needed food on the weekends.
In addition to the food packs created for the students, thousands of pounds worth of food will be donated from the food drive to families all across Utah County. These food items are transported in large crates provided by the food pantry Tabitha’s Way.
Volunteers also helped disassemble donated eyeglasses so they could be shipped all across the world for those in need of vision correction.
Missionaries, youth groups and other Church members in Carrollton, Texas, spent the morning of Sept. 9 building beds for the nonprofit organization Sleep in Heavenly Peace.
An assembly line of tools and material was laid across the First Methodist Church parking lot starting at 9 a.m.
“It was fun and my kids got to cut wood [and] sort screws and bolts,” said Reagan Watchman. “They let [my son] McKay cut hundreds of pieces of wood and taught him how to use the saw. There was a lot of supervision and you could see the whole process of making a bed from start to finish. Everyone had a job.”
In Garland, Texas, JustServe volunteers joined over 1,000 other volunteers to pack 305,000 meals during the North Texas Meal Pack.
Rockwall City Councilman Clarence Jorif is a Church member, an army veteran and a retired U.S. Secret Service Senior Special Agent. He was honored as a special guest during the meal pack event and led a moment of silence.
Jorif, who was in Washington, D.C. during the events of 9/11, said giving back to the community in remembrance of 9/11 is important to him and his family.
“Community service has been a mainstay in my life. Mom and Dad always said it was better to give of yourself,” Jorif said. “Giving back and serving others makes all of us better.”
In Houston, Texas, more than 1,200 volunteers gathered to clean the Houston National Cemetery in commemoration of 9/11.
The volunteers included youth, churches and various organizations. Together they cleared debris and washed headstones.
“We have ancestors buried here,” said volunteer Chelsea Cooper. “We wanted to come and commemorate 9/11 and teach our children about the importance of service.”
Elder B. Corey Cuvelier, an Area Seventy, said it is important to remember 9/11 so that the people who sacrificed all aren’t taken for granted.
He also thanked the volunteers for choosing to spend their day in service.
“They could’ve been anywhere, but they chose to be here,” he said.
In Tyler, Texas, over 100 youth from the Church gathered at the Tyler Rose Garden and weeded about five acres of rose beds.
They went “above and beyond” the ground manager’s expectations, according to a post on the JustServe East Texas & NW Louisiana Facebook page.
“He was amazed at all they were able to accomplish and how well they did the work,” the post states.
In Flint, Texas, Church members spent eight hours cutting, ironing and sewing for the Angel Layettes organization.
The nonprofit provides specialized burial layettes, blankets and memorial keepsakes through hospitals around the country at no cost to families.
“Debi, who manages the organization, was so grateful for the missionaries who gave up their preparation day to serve, and for all the members who came to give some of their time today as well,” a post on the JustServe East Texas & NW Louisiana Facebook page states.
JustServe specialists in Phoenix, Arizona, were asked by the 9/11 Day organization to provide 75 team leads for a large meal-packing event at Arizona State University’s Mullett Arena.
Most of the support staff came through JustServe sign-ups, but Arizona JustServe Director Ruth Pagán said they also reached out directly to the service missionaries. About 15 service missionaries and mission leaders helped.
“There was such a spirit of unity and goodwill at the meal pack. And it was fun, too,” said Arizona JustServe Director Ruth Pagán. “People were happy to be there, doing good and serving and honoring those we lost on 9/11. It was a great event, and we were so pleased to be a part of it.”
Two hundred young adults gathered to honor, remember and serve in Gilbert, using projects found on JustServe.org, said Lisa Bailey, who helps with JustServe for the Gilbert Coordinating Council.
“They made snack bags for children, hygiene kits for the homeless, gift bags for a children’s hospital and letters of encouragement for others in need. They had so many volunteers the projects were done in record time,” Bailey said.
Multiple stakes around the state also provided service in various ways such as cleaning up neighborhoods and parks; packaging hygiene kits; holding blood drives; and collecting food, toys and clothing for people in need.
The Idaho Falls West Stake gathered food and supplies for the Idaho Falls rescue mission, Local News 8 reported.
“To me, it’s kind of an exciting way to change the perspective of what a traumatic experience that we all had at the time,” one volunteer said. “This is a way we can honor it in a way that gives back, instead of [focusing on] something we’re all sad about.”
Church members in Louisiana commemorated 9/11 by taking cookies and cards to firefighters in Shreveport and Bossier.
“We love and appreciate all of our first responders in our community,” a post on the Church of Jesus Christ in East Texas and Northwest Louisiana Facebook page states. “God bless them!”
Several families in the Liberty Missouri Ward delivered meals to neighbors and helped stock local food pantries in commemoration of 9/11.
For the National Day of Service, the Westminster Colorado Stake provided:
- 500 hours of service.
- 250 members and friends of the Westminster stake.
- 200 popcorn bags wrapped for Meals on Wheels.
- 130 painted rocks for a garden walk at a retirement facility.
- 108 painted grocery bags for There With Care.
- 80 hats knitted for Passing Hats.
- 30 homemade lasagnas for We Are Lasagna Love.
On Sept. 9-10, Latter-day Saints from around Florida spent a second weekend helping clean up after Hurricane Idalia in the Big Bend area.
One Facebook post from the Orlando Florida South Stake said, “As we have served our neighbors, the words from the Savior come to mind: ‘I am among you as he that serveth’” (Luke 22:27).
The McCullough Hills Stake in Henderson, Nevada, made blankets for premature babies, painted sidewalk games on the blacktop at Smalley Elementary School and sang at an assisted living facility, among other service projects.
Canada also recognizes Sept. 11 as a National Day of Service and a Provincial Day of Service in Ontario. Its purpose is to honor and thank those who serve in their communities and to encourage volunteerism. The serviceday.ca website has a “take action” tab that takes users directly to JustServe.org to find volunteer opportunities.
The Oshawa Ontario Stake held an event on Monday, Sept. 11, to make cards and posters for first responders. They also made treat bags for police and fire fighters, and had photo opportunities to show appreciation.