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- Pay It Forward 9/11 was founded in 2002, inspired by the people of Gander, Newfoundland, who aided nearly 7,000 stranded airline passengers.
- Organization encourages performing 3 good deeds to honor the victims of 9/11.
Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. With memorials set across the nation, Americans will pause and reflect not only on the horrific events of that day, but also on the heroic efforts of the first responders and ordinary people who did what they could to help save lives.
As a way to honor those efforts, Pay It Forward 9/11 was established in 2002. The organization encourages Americans to perform three good deeds for strangers on 9/11 each year as a way to honor the victims of the terrorist attacks.
The effort was inspired by the people of Gander, Newfoundland, (then pop. 9,000), who provided food, clothing, and shelter to the nearly 7,000 stranded airline passengers from 90 countries who were diverted there when U.S. airspace was closed in 2001. This story was told in the book, “The Day the World Came to Town,” and in the Broadway musical, "Come From Away.”
By encouraging random acts of kindness on Sept. 11, the pay-it-forward movement is on track this year to have its most successful event in its 19-year history.
"Based on initial pledges, we're certain to exceed our goal of 20,000 good deeds to honor the victims killed 20 years ago in the 9/11 attacks," said Kevin Tuerff, founder and president of Pay It Forward 9/11.
"Back in 2001,” he said, “in a time before hashtags, the words ‘United We Stand’ were pervasive across the country. Twenty years later, we are a divided country, and suffering mightily from the pandemic, climate disasters, and more. History tells us (that) by working together, we can accomplish great things.”
Tuerff added that the day's theme this year is unity. “We encourage participants everywhere to perform a good deed for someone who looks or thinks different than themselves," he said.
Businesses — including Dell Technologies, Starbucks, Steptoe & Johnson, Gallin & Son, and AZ Advisory Group — are among those encouraging their employees to participate in the national day of remembrance and service.
For participation tips, visit PayItFoward911.org and add your participation pledge to place your community's heart on the organization’s global "Map of Kindness."