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How to help, volunteer and honor 9/11 victims through public service

By Christopher Dawson and Ben Burnstein, CNN

Twenty years ago, terrorists seized control of four airliners, killed 2,977 people and shook the national conscience of the United States. But the attacks of 9/11 also aroused a sense of patriotism, duty and civic resolve not seen in generations. In the two decades since that tragic moment, a spirit of service has transformed September 11 into a day to make a positive difference., a website enabling people to search by city for volunteer opportunities, hopes to facilitate 20 million acts of kindness and charity for the 20-year remembrance of 9/11.

Volunteering on September 11

September 11 is designated by Congress as the annual National Day of Service and Remembrance, and organizations across the country are hosting volunteer opportunities in all 50 states.

Here are some of the ways you can sign up to participate.

  • AmeriCorps lists volunteer opportunities by ZIP if you enter #911 into their search tool. Programs seeking volunteers can also register.
  • is organizing volunteer projects and packing meals in 10 select cities. They also provide a search tool to find volunteer opportunities in communities across the country.
  • Points of Light provides DIY tool kits and planners to volunteer at home, and their Engage platform lists both virtual and in-person volunteer events.
  • Youth Service America has a searchable map showing volunteer opportunities, and they offer tool kits to help young people create events in their hometown.

Charities take donations to help those affected on 9/11

Charities have distributed funds over the last 20 years to help the families who lost loved ones and offer assistance for the rescue teams facing health issues. They have provided financial support, covered medical expenses and offered mentoring and scholarships for children.

“It’s been a gift to watch these kids grow up and become the future leaders of America,” Rhianna Roddy, the executive director of the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund told CNN. “Over the years the number of eligible students grew because of the increasing numbers of cancers and exposure faced by the rescue workers. But we are committed to get them all through.”

Here are the organizations that you can support on our 9/11 Public Good campaign.

The FealGood Foundation provides advocacy and support to 9/11 responders who are now dealing with catastrophic health issues.

The Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund distributes financial aid to children of 9/11 victims.

Tuesday’s Children supports youth and families impacted by 9/11, and the post-9/11 Military Families of the Fallen, who have suffered losses as a ripple effect of the 9/11 tragedy.

The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation sets up 5K runs nationwide to raise money for veterans and first responders who lost limbs in the line of duty.

The Leary Firefighters Foundation helps fire departments receive training and buy new equipment.

There are also maintenance funds included in our campaign for many of the 9/11 memorials. Participating at the day’s events at these memorials, supporting these charities and volunteering your time are all ways we can come together.

“I pray on this 20-year remembrance, that we all put aside our differences and ideologies and unite around those we lost that day,” John Feal, the founder of the FealGood foundation told CNN. “We are all stakeholders of 9/11, and we are all connected by it.”

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