On Saturday, the Montclair State community came together in volunteerism to mark September 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance.
Through the efforts of the Center for Community Engagement and the Volunteer Center, an average of 350 students, faculty, alumni and local community members have served each year on campus and in the surrounding community, contributing more than 10,000 volunteer hours.
On the 20th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, this year’s Day of Service took on special significance. Although many of the student volunteers were born after the events of that fateful day, they feel a special connection through the stories of family members, faculty and neighbors – and the skyline view from campus that is a constant reminder.
“This is the University’s 12th Annual 9/11 National Day of Service and many of our students, especially freshman and sophomore, were not even alive on that tragic day and many were only a couple of years old,” said Center for Community Engagement Director Bryan Murdock. “Providing students an opportunity to serve our communities on this Day of Remembrance helps reinforce the historic meaning of this day and the tremendous sacrifice made by first responders and the importance that public service plays in our country.”
Krystal Woolston, assistant director of the Center for Community Engagement, added, “The National Day of Service and Remembrance allows our students an opportunity to serve their local communities in a meaningful way and honor all of the lives lost on 9/11, and all of those who boldly headed straight into harm’s way to help that day and the days that followed.”
Woolston thanked AmeriCorps members Katharine Culp and Adriana Pasquale for their assistance in coordinating volunteers.
Culp noted that the Day of Service represented “a great opportunity for students to not only get back into social groups and out of the virtual world, but for them to see the impact they can make with even just a few hours of volunteer time. Volunteering can show any participant that even small things can make a big difference.
“I think this volunteer experience will help volunteers, who were either too young to remember or not even born yet, to feel the impact of this day. This day, as tragic as it was, brought the country together. Volunteering on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 I feel will forge the same emotional bond.”
As in years past, students and community members had the opportunity to volunteer both on and off campus, spreading out across the region from the Montclair State Community Garden to Covenant House in Montclair and Newark, the Father English Food Pantry in Paterson, the Community Food Bank of NJ in Hillside, the Boys & Girls Clubs in Clifton, and more. Service activities ranged from assembling food boxes, to sorting medical supplies, organizing a thrift store, gardening, planting, painting, cleaning, and socializing with adults with disabilities as well as senior citizens.
The Montclair State 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance was funded by the New Jersey Governor’s Office of Volunteerism through a mini grant devoted to 9/11 days of service around the State of New Jersey.