9/11 Day Prompts Community Service Through September And Beyond
People showed up in droves in September to serve their communities in Wasatch County, not only on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, but throughout the month. An organizer of some large-scale projects says the bar has been raised for future days of service and ongoing efforts through the fall.
Community service is nothing new to people in Wasatch County, especially in commemoration of 9/11. This year, Heber Valley nonprofits and religious groups partnered with national nonprofit 9/11 Day to coordinate efforts on a large scale.
“I think we live in a valley where if people see a need, then they want to help,” said Sherry Cowen, a local 9/11 Day coordinator. “This just helped bring some of the needs to the surface so we could all pitch in and help. I really attribute it all to people’s natural instincts to want to help each other. We do live in a unique valley.”
9/11 Day has sponsored nationwide service projects on and around September 11 every year since 2002, the year after the airplane attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
According to Cowen, a national 9/11 Day representative commended people in Utah for an especially big turnout this year.
In Wasatch County this year, organizers saw the national effort as a way to make it easy for people to get involved and help out at a local level.
“Our goal was, ‘Let’s just do the best we can this year to make it a positive experience,’ then we can just build upon it each year and really make it this notable event that the whole valley looks forward to and can participate in,” Cowen said.
In Wasatch County, Cowen estimated about 500 people participated in the programs she helped coordinate, donating thousands of total work hours.
About 120 of them helped clear sod around Heber City Cemetery and Midway Main Street trees. Some 60 people helped make 18 quilts and contributed almost as many fleece blankets to be donated.
At the Christian Center of Park City in Heber, volunteers packed 1,600 snack bags for students and hundreds more kits for general hygiene, dental hygiene, baby care and pets.
They also wrote hundreds of thank-you cards to teachers and first responders. First responders also got in on the action by putting together birthday bags.
80 volunteers at Deer Creek said they found the trails around the lake already unusually clean when they arrived. They still collected about 100 bags of trash around trails, parking lots and marinas. Lofty Peaks Adventures donated a UTV to help collect the bags.
A calf-roping event on the 11th supported a Charleston family whose father is battling cancer. Proceeds came from entry fees from 250 teams, selling baked goods and auction items that included a fifth-wheel trailer and prize horse.
Just because the initiative commemorated 9/11 didn’t mean the service acts had to happen on September 11. Some of them extended through, and will even go beyond, the month.
The Widows of Wasatch group were already collecting stuffed animals to contribute to emergency trauma kits the Sheriff’s department keeps. They agreed to make this part of 9/11 Day and made 300 masks for pandemic safety on the day of, to boot.
The Wasatch County Children’s Justice Center gave 9/11 Day organizers a list of more than a dozen requests for help in their playground and building. The Cobblestone Homeowners Association turned that into an ongoing partnership to send volunteers to help there regularly.
And, with the help of an eagle scout, a final push in September helped knock out an ongoing effort to clean up parts of the Heber Valley Airport.
But Cowen said for all she knew, these efforts could just be the tip of the iceberg.
“So much happened that day that we’re not even aware of,” she said. “We noted people showed up at a neighbor’s house just to help her with her yard and showed up to do things like that. I talked to people who visited a lady in the care center. Those kinds of small acts of service happen all the time in this valley.”
Local project organizers and service organizations used justserve.org to coordinate projects.
For more on the national nonprofit 9/11 Day, visit 911day.org.