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    4 Acts of Service to Commemorate September 11th

    Never Forget.

    Those two words come to mind when I think of September 11th, 2001. The images of brave police, firefighters and paramedics linger in my memory. I also recall the response from those around my community. Each house on our street began waving Old Glory. Record numbers came together for a candlelight vigil at a local park. Rallying help and healing, there was a renewed sense of love for this great nation. 

    Each year when September 11th arrives, I try to take a moment to reflect...a moment to honor the memory of those who lost their lives, a moment to thank those in public service who work to save lives, every day.

    With this in mind, I'm sharing a few ways to express appreciation to local police, firefighters and paramedics.


    Give Thanks

    • A child could draw a picture or write a note
    • An adult could compose a letter of gratitude

    My friend Kelly is a local firefighter. After a tough week, she needed a pick-me-up. Calling in a favor from a local Girl Scout troop, the children’s response was a fantastic surprise. Colorful drawings and heartfelt notes filled a manila envelope to the brim. Giving these treasures to Kelly, the kindness from young strangers brought cheerful sunshine to an otherwise cloudy situation.

    This scenario pinpoints how a kind gesture and a thoughtful word can touch a heart. When thinking of those serving within your local community, consider how you could share a positive sentiment. Even the simple words, “Thank you for your service” can brighten another person’s day. 


    Give Blood

    As the Red Cross website states, “Make a difference. Help save lives today.” By donating blood, you’re giving a valuable gift of life to another person. That’s a big deal! Beyond blood donation, the Red Cross has a list of opportunities available for volunteers. Reach out to your local Red Cross office to see how you could give of your time.

    “We have taken what was a tragic day and have joined together with other members of the community to pay it forward and help others in need,” said Donna M. Morrissey, director of communications for the American Red Cross Northeast Division. 


    Offer Food

    • Bring a simple meal or snack
    • Donate a gift card from a local restaurant

    Years ago, my Grandma used to say, “Just bring them Jello.” In today’s world, it might take more than a bowl of a colorful jiggling dessert to show sincere appreciation. Before cooking up a feast for those serving in your city, ask your local station for their policy on food donations. When you have the green light and you’re thinking of what dish to prepare, consider a simple meal that reheats easily or try an on-the-go snack. Due to the spontaneous timing of emergency calls, those in uniform often aren’t able to finish a sit-down dinner.

    Another option is picking up a gift card the next time you’re out to eat. A thoughtful donation of money towards a meal might lift the spirits of a first responder.


    Volunteer in Your Community

    From collecting school supplies in the fall to gathering children’s toys at Christmas, police, firefighters, and paramedics often have fundraisers throughout the year. If you’re unable to pledge financially, you can still do your part by serving as a volunteer. Pitching in with a community event offers a way to meet others and assist those in public service.

    Another easy way to lend a hand is something I just signed up for. My local grocery store loyalty card offers a community rewards program. By following my normal shopping trends, the store will tally up charitable dollars. In my case, “going down to the Kroger” can benefit the local volunteer rescue squad.

    I feel that September 11th touches the heart of every American in a different way. What I’ve suggested here are a few ideas for acts of service to respectfully commemorate that fateful day in our nation’s history. 9/11 serves as my reminder to be grateful for those who respond to an emergency and to share my appreciation for their bravery every day of the year.

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    Mary Ann Eckberg


    Mary Ann Eckberg

    Originally from Nebraska, Mary Ann Eckberg is a writer, a dreamer, an animal rescue softie, a laundry ninja, a football fanatic, and a cupcake connoisseur. Honored to be a military spouse, Mary Ann collects good friends and good memories at every assignment.

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