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9/11 day observance. Barack Obama, fireman, and woman in food bank packing a box
Anniversary Of September 11th Attacks (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

On the anniversary of the attacks, a tribute rises from Ground Zero. — Mario Tama/Getty Images

We lost many lives on Sept. 11, 2001, and we lost a more open, trusting and fearless way of life. But 9/11 also wrought, somehow, one of the most spontaneous and durable outpourings of good the world has ever seen. All over the nation, Americans dedicated themselves to helping others.


On 9/11 Day Observance many Americans serve others as a way to honor the 9/11 victims, their family members, survivors, rescue workers and volunteers. To find a great way you can participate, enter your ZIP code in the Create the Good volunteer opportunity locator.

 

To share your memories about that day, join the AARP Message Board discussion, "Where were you on 9/11?"

 

A Day of Service

The events of 9/11 inspired many Americans to volunteer as they never had before. Here, the stories of three:

Volunteer Firefighter

Firefighter John Battistoni in front of a fire engine in Branson, Missouri

John Battistoni, 57, wanted to become a volunteer firefighter but feared he was too old and heavy. He wasn't. Watch

Volunteer
Hunger Fighter

Zamir Hassan bought a building in Newark, NJ to house his organization, Muslims Against Hunger

Zamir Hassan, 62, decided it was time to give back. He began feeding hungry people — many hungry people. Watch

Volunteer
Blanket Makers

Anna Duffield sews a blanket for Project Linus.

Retirement village residents learned that traumatized children needed blankets. They began making them. Watch

PAST DAYS OF SERVICE

In Their Own Words: "Why I Serve"

We asked five well-known Americans to explain what was motivating them to make a difference during the 9/11 Day of Service in 2010. Read their moving responses.

Jon Secada

Jon Secada

A Man With a Mission

"All our lives changed that day." The Grammy winner spent the ninth anniversary distributing food. Read

Shaun Tomson

Shaun Tomson

Observing the Surfer's Code

"The great feeling from giving back can help us beat terror." The veteran surfer organizes his peers to protect the environment. Read

Joan Nathan

Joan Nathan

Cooking and Writing to Fight Injustice

"In Arabic and Hebrew, 'bread' and 'life' are very close in meaning." The chef and author took on illiteracy as a day of service. Read

Doris Matsui

Doris Matsui

'Swing a Hammer, Swinging a Paintbrush'

"We, as Americans, just rushed in." For this U.S. lawmaker, remembering Sept. 11 was a hands-on effort. Read

Virgil Gibson

Virgil Gibson

Singing to Help Kids Is Dear to his Heart

"Everybody sees what we have in common." For the former Platters singer, lending a hand is for every day, not just Sept. 11. Read

1st Annual National Day of Service

On Sept. 11, 2009, the first National Day of Service and Remembrance, AARP Bulletin asked six journalists to volunteer for a variety of projects. Read their powerful essays about their experiences.

Nutrition for the Soul

First-time volunteer with Meals on Wheels discovers a tight-knit support network. Read

You Get What You Need

Volunteering on a community gardens food truck proves to be life-affirming service in honor of 9/11. Read

Rallying Around Community Heroes

Every 9/11, a Michigan community honors the heroes who gave their lives — and neighbors who risk theirs. Read

Turning a Letdown into Commitment

An unfulfilled wish to volunteer on 9/11 becomes a long-term pledge to help a retirement community. Read

Still Doing the Right Thing

Even when life gets tough, a woman stays her course of helping others — especially on 9/11. Read

Unbridled Satisfaction

There's magic to be found helping out with the "horse stuff" of a riding-therapy ranch for kids. Read

ways to volunteer

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Good Things You Can Do Yourself!

join the conversation

Heart and hand reaching out - AARP Volunteering Challenge to tell my story

Looking for ways to volunteer on 9/11? Or maybe you'd like to share stories from your own volunteering experiences. Either way, you’ll find plenty of good ideas in our Create the Good online conversation.

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