9-11 Day of Service Honors Volunteers, Victims

Derek Stowe

9/11 refers to Sept. 11, 2001, the day that 2,996 were killed. The victims of the attack included firemen, policemen and civilians, including nationals from more than 70 countries.

In all, Al-Qaeda hijacked four passenger jets: two that struck the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City; a third jet which struck the Pentagon in Arlington, Va.; and a fourth plane whose passengers overtook the hijackers and caused the plane to crash in a rural Pennsylvania field. Many believe this fourth plane was on its way to destroy the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

The 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance Fund was formed to commemorate the service of those who voluntarily helped others on that fateful day. The goal of this fund is to donate at least 100 new backpacks full of essential school supplies to homeless children in the Glendale area. GCC students, faculty and staff can help these young victims by supporting this worthy cause, if they so desire.

“It’s something we should never forget. It’s up to us as a country to remember those who lost their lives and to keep doing things in remembrance of them,” said Ella Shahjahanian, 19, a communications major.

She is one of the students working on the fund drive at the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) at GCC; it is located on the second floor of the Sierra Madre building, next to the cafeteria. She says, “I was 11 years old when the Twin Towers came down, and I didn’t believe my ears when the radio report came on.” Then after seeing it happen on a TV at her grandmother’s house, she said she understood. “It was so unreal. I’ve never seen anything like that. It sure makes you question things more.”

Another CSI worker, Quitos Ruiz, 21, a political science and game design major, said he had been walking to his middle school when a friend pulled over to tell him that the towers had been hit.

“What do you mean someone hit them?” Ruiz asked. “Planes crashed into them,” his friend replied. “How did planes crash into these monumental buildings?” pondered Ruiz, completely stunned. Since that day, he has felt a recurring uneasiness.

“Can we really be safe anymore? The world right now is not the way we want it. To have events like this occur, we should start changing it, even if it’s a small change.”

As of this publication, the students, teachers and families of GCC have donated more than $300 to the September fund-raising drive, which began on Aug. 30 with the unveiling of the 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance banner outside of the Center for Student Involvement.

When asked how this year’s proceeds were doing as compared to last year, Ruiz said, “Last year we were only selling bagels and water. This year we’ve been selling muffins, too, which has brought more people in to see what the table is all about. So we’ve gotten a lot more donations.”

“The donations have been coming in ranging from $1 for water, to $2 for a bagel and cream cheese. We even had one donation of 100 dollars.” Shahjahanian said.

According to Hoover Zariani, the center’s director and 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance organizer, “We need a lot more supplies if we’re going to fill 100 backpacks.” Therefore, the fund drive will be continued until the end of September. Those who are interested in helping should bring in new school supplies or simply make a cash donation.

The 9/11 Service and Remembrance fund drive is called Pack-a-Backpack, and will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 14. in the student center. Tables will be set up with all the collected school supplies on them, and those who have volunteered will assemble the 100 or more backpacks. The backpacks will be donated to School on Wheels, which is in charge of their distribution.

In 1993, Agnes Stevens, a retired teacher and founder of School on Wheels (schoolonwheels.org), discovered that hundreds of thousands of children across America were homeless and not attending school. By volunteering to teach homeless children at a local park in Santa Monica, she encouraged them to stay in school and to keep up with their grades and school activities. Many of Glendale’s kindergarten through 12th grade students have also been living in the streets, in vehicles or in homeless shelters.

By pitching in to help School on Wheels improve the Glendale community by helping those less fortunate, GCC students and faculty can make a truly meaningful gesture. Besides making a donation, volunteering at the Center for Student Involvement can be a rewarding experience and looks good on any application. CSI helps students get involved in the local community and on campus.

Students who participate in CSI activities have reported enhanced communication and problem-solving skills, and appreciation for diversity. CSI hours are Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to noon. More information can be found by visiting www.glendale.edu/csi or by calling (818) 240-1000 ext. 5580.