Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Effort Honors Victims; Volunteers Devote Service to 9/11

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Effort Honors Victims; Volunteers Devote Service to 9/11

Article excerpt

Byline: David Johnson, Staff writer

A new national program is giving Americans the opportunity to honor victims of Sept. 11 with community service and volunteer work, project officials say.

Through the Unity in the Spirit of America initiative, signed into law by President Bush in January, individuals, organizations and businesses can conduct volunteer projects as living memorials to remember those lost, organizers say. The USA project is unique in that the families of 9/11 victims have been involved in the planning from its inception.

"It is a way to preserve the memory of those lost," said Sue Nelson, agency relations director for Volunteer Jacksonville.

More than 800 projects have been registered nationally, Nelson said. Another 1,500 are expected by early this month, according to the Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network, the official initiative coordinator.

In Florida, 42 projects are registered, encompassing about 5,000 volunteers, Nelson said. Deadlines for projects to be registered and completed were extended to allow schools to become involved, she said. Projects must be registered by March 1 and completed by May 3.

Nelson said she was disappointed that only four projects in Jacksonville had been initiated, but that Volunteer Jacksonville was working to promote awareness.

Volunteer Jacksonville is registering one of its own events, Operation Suitcase, for the initiative, Nelson said. Volunteer Jacksonville will collect luggage, age-appropriate books, personal hygiene items and toiletries Oct. 26 to give to 17 area agencies, including the Jacksonville Youth Sanctuary, Jewish Family and Community Services and St. Augustine Youth Services.

The event is part of Make A Difference Day, a national day of helping others, and is in honor of victims of Sept. 11, Nelson said. …

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