The 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, will likely bring to mind the anxiety and grief that washed over the country in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, says Utah first lady Abby Cox.
But she hopes Utahns this Saturday can recapture an additional emotion from that time period: the feeling of drawing together as a community.
“We really felt this coming-together moment, and we want to remember that. We want to sort of reclaim that part of 9/11,” she said. “As we do that, the perfect way is to really go out and serve and be a part of your community.”
9/11 Day, the nonprofit that helps organize the annual national day of remembrance, wants to inspire 20 million “good deeds” across the U.S. in observance of the 20th anniversary. And Cox says there are plenty of opportunities to participate in Utah.
She will be joining in Saturday, although she told The Salt Lake Tribune last week that she wasn’t yet sure where she would be volunteering.
In addition to benefiting the community, Cox said, these acts of service could send a message to the next generation about uniting around a cause, even during a time of deep division.
“I am hopeful that they will come together because ... they’re more attuned to one another. They’re really better at empathy,” she said. “They’re really better at putting away those political divides and maybe checking our political tribalism at the door when we serve.”
LaDawn Stoddard, director of UServeUtah, a state agency that promotes volunteerism, said Utahns will have access to service projects no matter where they live. Among the largest organized events are efforts to clean up along the Jordan River and all around Utah Lake.
“It’s become a really amazing engagement effort statewide,” Stoddard said. “There’s projects everywhere.”
Utahns can search for volunteer opportunities at JustServe and Points of Light Engage. For people concerned about public gatherings during COVID-19, Stoddard pointed out that there are many ongoing opportunities for serving from home, whether it’s by knitting baby blankets or assembling care packages.
Here are a few options for serving Saturday in Salt Lake County, with links to details about time and place:
• Help the Granite Education Foundation pack student weekend meal kits, dinner kits and snack kits in West Valley City.
• Participate in a food and donation drive for food banks in the Murray and Midvale areas.
• Weed and spruce up the new Wasatch Community Gardens campus in Salt Lake City.
• Plant memorial trees at Fitts Park in South Salt Lake.
• Assist with vision screenings for students at David Gourley Elementary School in Kearns.
• Create artwork for police and fire precincts in West Valley City.
• Clean up along the Jordan River in South Jordan.
• Help stock the Kearns Food Pantry and school pantries by donating food in Kearns.
• Decorate the sidewalks around Mountain Man Park with chalk art as part of the Kearns day of service.
• Join in on the 18th annual Legacy of Lowell Saturday Service Project, coordinated by the University of Utah. Project options range from knitting hats for individuals experiencing homelessness to assembling food packages with Comunidades Unidas.
Here are options in Utah County:
• Cut and tie fleece blankets that will be delivered to the Haven Retreat for survivors of child sexual abuse.
• Pick up trash along a roadway in American Fork.
• Assemble hygiene kits for refugees and drop them off in Elk Ridge.
• Donate food and assemble meal packets for kids at schools in Provo.
• Clean up trash along the Jordan River in Lehi.
• Write a thank-you card to a veteran and get a free car wash in Provo.
• Sand benches at Shuler Park in Elk Ridge.
• Clean up along the Provo River.
• Donate socks at locations around Lehi for individuals experiencing homelessness.
• Box up humanitarian aid donations with Lifting Hands International in American Fork.
• Help clean up along Utah Lake.
Here are options in Davis and Weber counties:
• Help the Days for Girls, a North Salt Lake nonprofit that advocates for menstrual dignity and health, prepare kits to send around the world.
• Drop off food and other items for students experiencing homelessness and help sort them at Mountain High School in Kaysville.
• Volunteer to staff the Weber Remembers event at the county fairgrounds. The three-day event, organized by the Major Brent Taylor Foundation, will feature an interactive museum about 9/11.
• Paint fire hydrants in Centerville.
• Spruce up trailheads in Ogden by trimming plants and cleaning up trash.
• Sort and assemble pantry packs for students in Davis County and for the Children’s Justice Center.
You can also commemorate 9/11 by attending any of the following memorials:
• In Utah County: Fire and law enforcement vehicles will sound their sirens at 8:46 a.m. (for the collapse of the north tower of the World Trade Center), at 9:03 a.m. (for the south tower), at 9:37 a.m. (for the west side of the Pentagon) and at 10:03 a.m. (for the United Airlines Flight 93 crash in a field near Shanksville, Pa). The public is invited to gather at the Utah County Historic Courthouse (51 S. University Ave., Provo) to hear the sirens at these times, though the display will run concurrently at city halls and other public locations.
• In Sandy: The Utah Healing Field, part of the nonprofit Colonial Flag Foundation, has posted 3,000 flags at 1000 S. Centennial Parkway in Sandy to honor the fallen. The display is free to the public and open through Sept. 13. On 9/11 at 7:30 p.m., the flag display will be the site of Utah Healing Field’s free “9.11 Ceremony to Remember” event, featuring an Air Force flyover and the Utah Symphony. Utah Healing Field’s full schedule of events is available on the organization’s website.
• In Ogden: The Major Brent Taylor Foundation is presenting Weber Remembers 9/11, an “interactive commemorative museum experience” highlighting the events of Sept. 11, 2001, according to the foundation’s website. The event is free to the public and will be held at the Weber County Fairgrounds (1181 Fairgrounds Drive, Ogden) through Sept. 11. It will include an interactive museum, the chance to speak with Utahns in uniform, food trucks and activities for kids.