Hattiesburg residents honored Sept. 11 victims by improving their own community with a city-wide day of service and outreach on Friday.
According to Southern Miss Now, The Center for Community and Civic at the University of Southern Mississippi and the City of Hattiesburg collaborated with several area organizations to aggregate a diverse amassment of volunteers.
“Sept. 11 is a day no one will forget, so we encourage everyone to put their boots on and help a nonprofit, your city or even your neighbor,” Mayor Johnny DuPree said to Hattiesburg American. “Just get out and volunteer.”
The initiative, called #WeAreHattie, derived from the Sept. 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance.
“The purpose of the Sept. 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance is to mobilize more Americans to engage in service and remembrance activities that meet vital community needs and honor the sacrifice of those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, or those who rose in service as a result of that tragedy,” said Christy Arrazattee, director of the Center for Community and Civic Engagement at USM.
Area schools, churches, non-profits and private citizens signed up to volunteer and then were distributed to areas of need.
Volunteers at Burger Middle School began collecting discarded electronics as a part of their own splinter service project, Operation Gratitude.
According to the school’s instagram account, the effort will help the school send care packages to US troops overseas. GRC Wireless plans to contribute up to $300 for each donated phone.
Students at the school held a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., approximately the time American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center 14 years previously. Across the city, others were following suit with a prayer or silent prayer before heading off to their individual volunteer opportunities, which ranged from painting school fences to bagging food for the homeless.
At USM, members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity hosted a Sept. 11 Commemoration Program.
Lorenzo Patrick, president of the Mu Xi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha at USM, said the event happened to coincide with the fraternity’s annual event that honors Sept. 11 victims and first responders.
“The chapter strives to recognize those who lost their lives on Sept.11 while also recognizing the first responders that sacrifice their (safety) today to ensure that our communities are safe,” Patrick said.
“They are dedicated to the perpetuation of American life. It’s important to say ‘thank you’ because we never know when such a tragedy will happen again.”
According to WDAM, Hattiesburg and USM police officers, along with Hattiesburg firefighters and local emergency medical technicians, received certificates of appreciation during the event.