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5 Tips for Finding the Best 9/11 Volunteer Opportunity for You

Experts offer advice for 10th anniversary

2. Reach Out and Touch Someone.

Elizabeth and Stephen Alderman, founders of the Peter C. Alderman Foundation

Inspiration. Searching for a way to honor the Aldermans' son, Peter, who died in the Twin Towers on 9/11, Elizabeth saw a television show about the millions of people around the world who survive war and terrorism but endure lasting psychological trauma.

"If people don't care whether they live or die, they won't take their AIDS cocktails, or put their mosquito nets down at night." — Stephen Alderman

Action. The Aldermans established a foundation that trains caregivers in violence-torn countries to treat depression and pain by blending Western medical therapies with local healing traditions. It's a need that is often overlooked, Stephen, 70, says: "If people don't care whether they live or die, they won't take their AIDS cocktails, or put their mosquito nets down at night."

The foundation has served more than 100,000 people on four continents — and eased the Aldermans' own grief. "The foundation helped save our lives. It was a reason to get out of bed, to function at a very high level," says Elizabeth, 69.

Tips. Connect with someone in need; it's a profound gift all can give. Welcome home returning troops through your local USO. Visit nursing-home residents. Hold babies in a hospital nursery.

3. Host a Volunteer Gathering in Your Home.

Mimi Castaldi, AARP vice president of volunteerism

Inspiration. The national outpouring of support for the victims of 9/11 stirred the nation but left many local service organizations short of funds and volunteers.

Action. AARP has organized a National Day of Service supported by members and employees across the country every year since 2001. This 10th anniversary year, Create the Good, AARP's resource for finding ways to get involved and a 9/11 Day program leader, asked members to host service-themed house parties on 9/11 weekend.

Why house parties? "Because the social atmosphere lets people do something good while having fun," Castaldi says.

Some 1,350 official gatherings — each with at least 10 guests — will spend a day collecting gently used jackets through One Warm Coat; paperback books through Operation Paperback; or a charitable project of their choice.

Tips. It's too late to coordinate an official Create the Good house party, but you can still consider organizing your own, maybe around collecting books for troops or collecting warm coats. Whatever you do, do something: "It can be anything," Castaldi says.

Next: Exercise for charity. >>

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