Volunteering as a way to remember 9/11


DuPage seeks families for day of community projects By Cheryl Winkelman :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

photo courtesy of Giving DuPage Kori King, 4, works alongside volunteer Cindy Schuler at the 2003 Day of Volunteerism in DuPage County.

Wendy King has spent Sept. 11 the same way for the last two years-volunteering in her community. In 2002, she cleared brush at Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn. Last year she gathered seeds with her then 4-year-old daughter, Kori, in the Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville.

Volunteers such as King, of Winfield, will get the chance this year to choose from more than 70 projects-an assortment of hands-on activities and collection drives-that make up what is known as the "DuPage Remembers and Gives . . . A Day of Volunteerism."

Started on Sept. 11, 2002, the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed 3,000 people, the event serves a dual role, according to Jennifer Jones Wilk, manager of Giving DuPage, a public and private initiative.

It is a "way to commemorate the day" and to give people a chance to help out their community, she says.

Last year, more than 350 volunteers worked 1,300 hours for nearly 40 nonprofit organizations across the county, organizers say. That translates to an estimated $20,000 in support.

For the past two years, Sept. 11 has fallen on a weekday, so many of the volunteers came from area businesses. This year, however, Sept. 11 falls on a Saturday, and organizers are hoping that will translate into a surge of families volunteering.

Among the activities scheduled this year is "Bloom Where You Are Planted," which involves planting bulbs at the Ray Graham Association for People with Disabilities, a 100-bed residential facility in Addison. Volunteers can also help with a project called "Meows and Minis" to aid Cat Guardians, a shelter for unwanted strays.

Items sought for collection drives include bed linens for Serenity House, a shelter for the homeless and people suffering from substance abuse, and bingo prizes for Fairview Baptist Home, a residence for seniors.

Organizers are still seeking volunteers willing to spend three hours working on hands-on activities.

At the end of the day, there will be a volunteer-appreciation barbecue at the Indian Boundary YMCA, 711 59th St., Downers Grove, from 6-8 p.m. There, organizers will announce the winners of a poster-essay contest depicting caring in the communities. Eight winners will receive a $100 savings bond and an additional $100 to donate to their favorite DuPage charity.

For more information or to register to volunteer, visit www.givingdupage.org or contact Giving DuPage at (630) 407-6458.



Cheryl Winkelman, Medill News Service


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