WASHINGTON – Sept. 11 will forever be a day of grim memories, but a group of victims' relatives, nonprofit groups and marketing professionals hope to also turn it into an annual opportunity to boost volunteerism and charitable works.
One Day's Pay (search), a New York-based nonprofit, wants millions of Americans to honor those killed in the terrorist attacks by lending a helping hand to their communities each Sept. 11. The effort begins this year, and the group's goal is 30 million participants by 2010.
In announcing their plans Tuesday, organizers said they are not seeking to turn Sept. 11 into a work holiday. Nor do they expect that every American will have time to volunteer that day. But they hope people will take steps on Sept. 11 toward helping a community group with a pledge of money or time.
"It's a simple idea. All we're saying to people is, observe Sept. 11 by doing something good for someone else," said David Paine, the group's president and the chief executive officer of Paine PR, a public relations agency.
Jay S. Winuk, whose brother Glenn died at the World Trade Center (search), said the volunteerism drive "is perhaps the best thing to rise from the ashes of that terrible day. It is a simple, user-friendly action plan for helping others."
Winuk, the group's vice president, said his 20-year-old brother raced from his law office about a block from Ground Zero to lend his skills as a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician on Sept. 11, 2001.
"That day he risked everything to help others, as he had hundreds of times before," Winuk said. "Glenn's remains were found six months later in the ruins of the South Tower, a borrowed medic bag by his side."
The concept for One Day's Pay, according to the group, was inspired by the courage exhibited by the passengers who rebelled against hijackers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 (search), which crashed into a Pennsylvania field.
The group's founders include Alice Hoglan of California, whose son, Mark Bingham, died in the crash.
"The purpose of One Day's Pay is to act as a vehicle for us to convert that awful negative energy that was generated that day into something truly beautiful, altruistic, constructive and uplifting," she said.
The name One Day's Pay refers to the idea of giving at least one day's service to communities each year.
Organizations working with One Day's Pay include the Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network (search), Youth Service America and Citizen Corps, an office within the Department of Homeland Security that coordinates preparedness activities in communities nationwide.
One Day's Pay created a Web site to help individuals, employers and organizations make plans to help others on or around Sept. 11. More than 100 organizations have already pledged to participate this year.
Those participating are encouraged to register nonbinding, confidential pledges, which One Day's Pay will tally each year.
The group had planned to urge Congress to pass a resolution recognizing Sept. 11 as a voluntarily observed national day of service, charity and compassion. But Paine said that with the anniversary a month away, and Congress in recess, the organization is not pressing that idea this year.