In the decade since Sept. 11, a small army of volunteers has marked each anniversary of the terror attacks by devoting a day to help nonprofit agencies in DuPage County.
For officials with Giving DuPage, the outpouring of support for the organization's annual service projects is proof of the "incredible spirit of community" that came out of the tragedy.
If you goWhat: Day of Service and Remembrance
When: 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 11
Where: Morton Arboretum's Thornhill Education Center, 4100 Route 53, Lisle
Details: Part of Giving DuPage's weekend of service in honor of Sept. 11; space limited to 250 people
"As we have gotten further away from (Sept. 11, 2001), we've seen fewer people get involved on the day of service," said Kathy Blair, Giving DuPage's executive director. "However, we have seen an increase in ongoing, year-round volunteerism. So I really see it as a win."
This year's service projects will happen Friday through Monday, Sept. 9-12, at locations throughout the county, including Sunrise Senior Living of Bloomingdale and the DuPage Convalescent Center in Wheaton. Organizers hope as many as 1,000 volunteers will participate over the four days.
In addition to the projects, a "Day of Service and Remembrance" ceremony is planned for 11 a.m. Sunday at the Morton Arboretum's Thornhill Education Center, 4100 Route 53, Lisle.
County board member Jeff Redick will serve as master of ceremonies of the hourlong event, sponsored by DuPage County, Giving DuPage and the Morton Arboretum.
Redick said in a statement that the purpose isn't to dwell on "the senseless carnage or loss of innocent life" that happened on Sept. 11. "Instead, we will celebrate the great acts of kindness, selfless giving and compassion that were born out of the tragic loss," he said.
With the theme "Our Everyday Heroes," the ceremony will have music, speakers and the debut of a roughly seven-minute video about volunteerism in DuPage. The featured speakers include Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District Chief Thomas Freeman and Darlene J. Ruscitti, superintendent of the DuPage Regional Office of Education.
Entry into the arboretum will be free with the donation of a nonperishable food item for the Northern Illinois Food Bank. Because space is limited to 250 people, reservations are required through dupagedayofremembrance.eventbrite.com.
Following the ceremony, attendees are invited to participate in service projects to honor active military personnel.
In one project, volunteers will make squares that will be part of quilts that be created for military families. Members of the community also will be able to write letters of support to military personnel. The stationery for the letters was created by students of Wiesbrook Elementary School in Wheaton.
In addition, families of active military members are invited to videotape a message to send to their loved one sponsored by Lad4Creations. Those interested must make a reservation for that day by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, Blair said she hopes the service projects inspire people who aren't volunteers to get involved.
"The goal of service days is that it's an introduction to service," Blair said. "The hope is that they get hooked on volunteerism."
Anyone wishing to volunteer for a service project should visit the Giving DuPage website at givingdupage.org.