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Spirit of 9/11 Unites Campus for Day of Service, Remembrance

Posted in: Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships

Nearly 400 Montclair students, faculty and staff volunteered for the Day of Service and Remembrance.

On the National Day of Service and Remembrance, Montclair State University volunteers observed the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by supporting community partners, including helping to build homes, feed the hungry and organize donations. A campus-wide donation drive contributed school supplies for students at Eastside High School in Paterson.

The efforts of nearly 400 students, faculty and staff on Saturday, September 9 rekindled the spirit of unity that arose in America in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

“Service acts as a uniting force that allows us to remember, yes the sadness of the day, but also the ways we are capable of coming together and helping each other,” says Krystal Woolston, assistant director of the Center for Community Engagement, which sponsors the event to allow students to serve in a meaningful way.  “I hope that’s the lesson students leave with each year.”

Before heading out to about 30 different nonprofit organizations and community partners, students heard from Bill Spade, a retired New York City firefighter, and Jim Fraser, a naval officer who served at the Pentagon. Despite the 22 years that have elapsed, the Day of Service evokes the spirit of togetherness that followed the attacks, they said.

“I think students learn from the event every year, which is valuable because so many of our young students weren’t alive during that time period,” Woolston said.

A student sings into a microphone.
Gabrielle Renee ’22, Montclair Bonner Leader alumna, sings the National Anthem during the opening ceremony.

As in years past, students volunteered both on and off campus, spreading out across the region. Among the volunteers were students from the Bonner Leaders, NextGen, AmeriCorps, Montclair’s sororities and fraternities, and faculty and staff, many who brought their families to work alongside them.

At the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in Hillside, Keiva-Nevaeh Edghill, a senior majoring in Biology with a minor in Leadership Development through Civic Engagement, said her group helped pack 315 boxes with various food items. “It was an amazing experience,” she said. “I’ve been at the food bank previously, but knowing that I made some type of impact in people’s lives when they receive these packages is why I continue to go back.”

Two students tape boxes.
During Montclair’s National Day of Service and Remembrance, volunteers provided helping hands to a variety of nonprofits, including organizing donations, stocking shelves, building hoes and feeding the hungry. Shown are students at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. 
A woman stands on stage in front of a drawing of the World Trade Center twin towers.
Interim Bonner Leader and Service Coordinator Mikaela Guzman introduces speakers at Montclair’s Day of Service and Remembrance. “After serving, participants were eager about the next time they could volunteer,” she said. “I think that speaks a lot about the culture of the community that we have worked to create.”
A college mascot, a giant red hawk, gives a student a black bag with the words “Day of Service” on it.
Students said volunteering gives them the opportunity to give back to the community and create a positive impact. Montclair’s mascot, Rocky the Red Hawk, lends a hand. 
A student packs a box with canned goods.
At the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in HIllside, a volunteer sorts foods to be distributed to network partners and members of the community. 
A student and the college president unpack boxes.
Montclair President Jonathan Koppell helps students prepare for lunch at Eva’s Village in Paterson. The shelter provides care and support to individuals struggling with hunger, homelessness, substance use disorders and mental health issues. 
A young woman smiles as she packs a box of supplies.
Working hard and still smiling.
President Jonathan Koppell talks to a staff person standing behind a kitchen counter.
President Jonathan Koppell talks with Angela Vance, volunteer coordinator at Eva’s Village. The Community Kitchen is often the entry point for clients who receive other social services or behavioral health support from Eva’s Village. 
A student carries a box of fruit.
At the St. Joseph Social Service Center in Elizabeth, a University volunteer helps to unload a food truck serving the soup kitchen.
Students give a family a bag of food.
Student volunteers distribute food at the St. Joseph Social Service Center in Elizabeth.
Two people carry a large piece of drywall material at a construction site.
At Passaic County Habitat for Humanity, Nicole Fleming, right, director of Special Events, and Julia DelBagno, assistant dean of Student Engagement, were among the staff and students who volunteered at homes in Paterson.
A young man stands inside a door at a construction site.
At the Habitat for Humanity site, volunteers from Montclair and Seton Hall University worked together on various jobs, moving lumber, installing a fence, painting, and insulating walls and ceilings.
A large group of students work in a warehouse.
Volunteers also assisted at the Boys & Girls Club of Clifton, Branch Brook, Clifton Garden Club, Dress for Success Northern New Jersey, Father English food pantry and thrift shop, Montclair’s Global Center on Human Trafficking, MedShare, Montclair Community Farms, Montclair History Center, Pillar Care, Saint Peter’s Haven, Succeed2gether, United Passaic Organization Visiting Health Service of New Jersey, and YMCA of Montclair.


Story by Staff Writer Marilyn Joyce Lehren. Photos by University Photographer Mike Peters and John J. LaRusso

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