CHICAGO (CBS) — This year, to mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, President Barack Obama is encouraging Americans to volunteer or do something good for their community in a national day of service.
But as CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, for several years now on that date, thousands of Chicagoans have been doing just that.
Some of its walls haven’t been painted for years, but by Sept. 11, an army of volunteers will transform George B. McClellan Elementary School inside and out.
“We’re gonna paint this whole building. We’re painting 21 classrooms, all the hallways. We’re doing some work in the teachers’ lounge, at the cafeteria, in the library. We’re going to be doing some landscaping work outside. We’re going to be building some cubbies and some storage units. That’s why we need 500 volunteers,” said Christine O’Reilly, Senior Director of Community Relations for the Chicago White Sox.
For two years now the Chicago White Sox and White Sox Charities have coordinated service projects to mark the anniversary of 9/11.
“The way that America really has banded together in service since September 11th is something we recognized and we wanted to embrace,” O’Reilly said.
The horrors of 9/11 ignited a sense of community in many Americans that continues to this day. For example, this year Chicago Cares is coordinating more than 60 service projects to honor the date.
“The country really came together in service afterwards and what we’re seeing is a lot of people really want to come back to that,” said Chicago Cares Executive Director Bridget Altenburg.
In the name of local police and firefighters, restaurateur Anthony Gambino is donating 50 cents from every burger sold at his Burger Boss restaurant in the next two weeks to the American Red Cross.
It builds upon the nine years of September 11th fundraisers he’s sponsored at his sister restaurant Cucina Paradiso. In conjunction with the Oak Park Fire Department, they’ve raised $90,000 for local charities.
“We raised $30,000 just in the Harley raffle alone,” Oak Park Firefighter Mike Henkelman said.
It’s the result of Americans touched by the sacrifices witnessed on 9/11 and a vow to honor the spirit of those sacrifices.
“Knowing that these men and women were actually running into these buildings to save people, that’s just heroic in my eyes and, you know, they sometimes don’t get enough credit for it,” Gambino said. “It’s the least we can do.”
Oak Park Firefighters and Cucina Paradiso have given scholarships to local students entering the teaching profession and financed the travel of World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the WWII memorial.
Chicago Cares said their activities this year include “roll up your sleeve” service projects as well as afternoon visits to senior citizens’ centers.