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Taking Action to Remember September 11

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RISMEDIA, September 11, 2007-Cathy Moretenson of Miami, Florida, is planning to remember the events of September 11, 2001, this year by purchasing school supplies for a family of six on welfare. Stacy Towery is leading a group of 25 volunteers in Nashville, Tennessee, to assemble and ship care packages and write letters to soldiers overseas.

Andrew Reinholz in Mesa, Arizona, plans to purchase a van for a boy who has cerebral palsy and his aging father. Melissa Lowry in Morgantown, West Virginia, is surprising a random mother with $10 at the grocery store. Flo Stahly of West Chester, Ohio, will host a blood drive for her 450 fitness center members. And Lisa Scheive of Pompano Beach, Florida, intends to simply rescue turtles she sees crossing the road.

All told, millions of people are expected to voluntarily participate in an emerging grassroots initiative called myGoodDeed.org to observe the anniversary of 9/11 as a national day of service, charitable acts and good deeds. The nonprofit initiative, created with the support of 22 9-11 family, volunteer and survivor member groups, encourages individuals and organizations to perform good deeds and other forms of charitable service as a long-term way to remember and honor the victims, survivors, volunteers and rescue and recovery workers of 9/11.

Founded by two friends, David Paine and Jay Winuk, following the death of Jay’s brother, attorney and volunteer firefighter Glenn Winuk, who perished in the line of duty on 9/11, myGoodDeed.org has been generating substantial attention for its efforts, including from the White House.

This year, as the nation approaches the sixth anniversary of 9/11, the initiative’s Web site, http://www.myGoodDeed.org, has already received pledges for more than 50,000 good deeds, and visitors from more than 100 different countries and territories, including China, Russia, Kenya, Iran, Brazil, Great Britain, Canada, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines. David Paine, who serves as president of the nonprofit organization, says that by the time 9/11 is observed this year, the organization expects to well exceed 2006 totals of more than two million hits and 150,000 posted good deeds.

“Over the past five years our nation has been able to pay tribute through important national services, but as time goes by, it is inevitable that these memorial services will gradually and naturally convert to private moments shared mostly by family members and others directly affected by the attacks,” Paine said. “As a nation, if we hope to remember 9/11, we will need to find other ways to acknowledge the significance and impact of the events of that day in our nation’s history, and there is no better way to do that than to transform 9/11 into a national day of voluntary service.”

Added Winuk: “We strive to create a permanent and lasting legacy for 9/11 that provides future generations with a constructive way to reflect on the historic events of that day and its aftermath through the kinds of personal expressions of service and charity that originally marked our national response to the terrorist attacks.”

Most people visit the myGoodDeed site and post relatively simple good deeds, but others have engaged in the truly remarkable. On August 31, 2007, John Feal, an advocate for Ground Zero workers and founder of the FealGood Foundation, actually donated one of his kidneys to a stranger, as part of a series of transplant surgeries to help a seriously ill 9/11 rescue worker.

However, one doesn’t have to make a great sacrifice to make a meaningful difference, Winuk says. “We can all think of and do something simple and small, if that’s your choice, to help others in need,” he says.

myGoodDeed.org has assembled an impressive network of partners and political support. Organizations backing the effort include AOL and Yahoo, which are donating significant online advertising, along with the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Points of Light Foundation, Hands On, Youth Service America, Volunteer Match and other prominent program partners. Seed funding has been provided by American Express, KPMG, Ambac Corporation and Keefe Bruyette & Woods, a New York-based investment firm that lost nearly one third of its employees in the World Trade Center attack on 9/11.

More than a dozen Members of the U.S. Congress have also pledged good deeds in observance of 9/11, including U.S. Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ); and U.S. Representatives Peter King (R-NY), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Michael Ferguson (R-NJ). Many other political figures are expected to join the campaign this week as well. Even the White House is paying attention. This week, President George Bush for the first time included important new language in his annual 9/11 Proclamation urging Americans to volunteer to help one another as one way to observe the anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

Projects and Activities

Good deed projects are planned in many states across the nation. In New York City on 9/11, as part of a myGoodDeed campaign organized by New York Cares, more than 100 volunteers from Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Jones Apparel and other organizations will paint murals in a courtyard, and will revitalize the playground, garden and other outdoor areas at PS 145M, a school that serves 700 students in grades Pre-K through 5, of which 89% receive free lunches. Volunteers will also read books with community service themes to second graders and then create craft projects related to the themes of these books.

In Boston, 300 college and university students from five schools will participate in various projects organized by Boston Cares, such as donation sorting at Cradles to Crayons, painting a building at a Boston Housing Authority property, animal care and serving a meal to those living with HIV/AIDS.

The New York Says Thank You Foundation will be sending more than 100 volunteers from NYC and around the country to help rebuild the Groesbeck, Texas, home of James and Eva Vincent, which was destroyed in a deadly tornado last December. About 800 to 1,000 local volunteers are expected to turn out and help rebuild the home in two days. The New York Says Thank You group will include 25 FDNY firefighters, some of whom are survivors of the World Trade Center attacks, as well as 9/11 family members, construction workers who oversaw the clean-up efforts at Ground Zero and other New
Yorkers affected by 9/11 and who want to give back.

myGoodDeed.org, a 501c3 nonprofit, is supported by more than 20 9/11 family member, volunteer, survivor and support organizations. For more information, visit http://www.myGoodDeed.org, or send an e-mail to info@myGoodDeed.org.

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