The Student Center cafeteria at Montclair State was filled with students hungry to volunteer for the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance on Saturday, Sept. 14.
Students enjoyed a breakfast buffet as they waited to begin their service at one of the many on and off-campus locations they signed up for. The Student Center and the community garden were some of the on-campus locations in which students were hard at work gardening or making sandwiches.
Lauren Brodowski, the community engagement and learning coordinator of the event, was one of the organizers who made sure students were making their way to their assigned locations around and outside of Montclair State.
Being one of the coordinators for this event, Brodowski shared her reason for being a part of it.
“Sept. 11 is very important [to me], I didn’t have anyone involved, but I think as a country we were all in it together, regardless of who we were,” Brodowski said. “I want to give back to the people that fight for our country every day and for those that lost their lives on 9/11 and their families.”
Off-campus events additionally took place in the neighboring towns around Montclair, New Jersey, including Little Falls, Clifton, Wayne, Passaic and Bloomfield. Students took on tasks such as cleaning up community parks, visiting nursing homes and other care centers. One activity at the care center included participating in arts and crafts with the residents of the Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey in Wayne, New Jersey.
Olga Ramirez, an undecided freshman who commutes from Passaic, decided to volunteer by helping clean up a community park in her hometown.
“I think it’s very important to help our community,” Ramirez said. “I’m from Passaic [New Jersey], so I feel like by participating in Passaic, I’m making a change.”
This year marked the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance at Montclair State.
Bryan Murdock, the director of the Center for Community Engagement, stressed the importance of the yearly event.
“There was a call for this kind of citizen engagement to commemorate the services and sacrifices of those who served and lost their lives,” Murdock said. “It seemed like it would be a good fit for college students to get involved and to be part of the remembrance and to get them thinking about service as part of their lives at the same time.”
The emphasis on giving back to the community, and adding to positive change in light of a dark and tragic event in American history, was a unifying theme among volunteers who gave their time and service at the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance.
Senior psychology major Stephanie Oyuela was one of the students that volunteered their time.
“I feel like it’s always nice to give back to your community, especially for such a cause that has impacted our own community,” Oyuela said. “I feel like so many people that day gave so much of their lives, their service and their sacrifice and that it’s only right to give back.”