United Way honored the 20th anniversary of 9/11 by engaging more than 185 volunteers at the Salvation Army, building 1,200 Family Emergency Preparedness Starter Kits for local families in support of the September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance (9/11 Day). The goal of this day of action was to turn a day of tragedy into a day of doing good in San Antonio and Bexar County.
Volunteers created preparedness kits over the course of two days, including preparing arts and crafts for families, providing information on the events of 9/11/2001 and emergency preparedness, and creating Family Emergency Preparedness Starter Kits.
Comprised of supplies needed in emergencies, the kits included items such as flashlights, snacks, first aid kits, foldable water bottles and emergency foil mylar thermal blankets, as well as guidance for how to create and practice a disaster preparedness plan.
Completed kits were distributed throughout Bexar County to families who may lack adequate disaster plans and supplies, including clients of American Red Cross – Greater San Antonio Area Chapter, Any Baby Can of San Antonio, Alamo Community Colleges, RMYA (Roy Maas Youth Alternatives), Salvation Army of San Antonio, Alpha Home and AVANCE of San Antonio. Individuals not able to participate in person were invited to an online letter writing platform for virtual volunteers to learn about 9/11 Day and write encouraging notes to families who received the kits.
“As San Antonio marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks, United Way is pleased to offer this meaningful service activity to commemorate this occasion and honor the victims and heroes of that day,” said Chris Martin, president and CEO, United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County. “In the wake of the attacks, people in San Antonio and around the world stepped up in unprecedented ways to support the rescue and recovery efforts. Our local volunteers hope to recreate that unified spirit of service on this year’s day of action.”
Amanda Bishop, special events and volunteer coordinator at The Salvation Army, shared, “The impact that these kits will have for our families and individuals as they’re leaving our shelter will be something they can use as a resource tool in a time of disaster and help them be more self-sufficient as they’re on their own moving into permanent housing.”
Volunteers also felt strongly about giving back to mark the 9/11 anniversary. Leticia Ogilvie with AAOCG’s Veteran Directed Care Program said, “I feel like volunteering specifically for these 9/11 Emergency Kits is important because I have a history of volunteering from my service in the Army. I learned during a few FEMA inspection missions that you can be prepared enough for an emergency or a catastrophe. But for this specific day, I feel whatever we can do to make it better – we should.”
Beginning in 2002, family members who lost loved ones led the effort to create an appropriate and fitting tribute to their loved ones and those who responded to the tragedy. The leadership of these families drove the establishment in April 2009 of the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance.
The day of action was underwritten by a grant from AmeriCorps, stewards of the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance. To learn more about volunteer projects offered through the Volunteer Center at United Way, please visit our website.
At any given moment, a person can experience a life-altering disaster like 9/11, a fire, hurricane, even a pandemic. It might also be job loss, hunger, rising rent or utility bills. When an individual or family needs help or experiences a life event, disaster or crisis; the impact often has a ripple effect on their job, education, health and safety. United Way’s Safety Net Impact Council collaborates to provide emergency and disaster care services to help stabilize individuals and families, meeting their most immediate needs.