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.
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.”