50 Ways to Do Good on September 11th

by - Saturday, September 10, 2016

small town street with an american flag

Aren't you sick of hearing about how horrible America is? This election year has been depressing for oh so many reasons, but nothing is worse than listening to people antagonize others for where this country is going. We are all co-authors of this country, and tomorrow, more so than any other day, it feels right to focus on what is good and what unites us as a people.

Every year on September 11th, at least one person puts up images or film of the two towers which are absolutely crushing. To these people, it is important that we continue mourning the catastrophic event, and I don't think they are wrong to mourn, but I choose to think about the holiday in a different way. When I go back and read the newspaper articles, watch the news clips (some of which I did earlier this summer), or even watch the late night show returning monologues, I am moved to tears by the amount of compassion we have for each other, our gratitude towards fireman and police,  and our willingness to put our sympathy and gratitude into action.

 In that moment, which people are right to remember as dark, eventually showed the best of who we are as Americans, our willingness to help each other, and our collective and active authorship of our country. You could see that light clearly in that moment, and that is what I choose to focus on for this day of remembrance.

We can still show each other compassion, contribute to our communities, and take care of our country.

For this reason, I LOVE the 9/11 day observance, which encourages Americans to do good deeds in remembrance of the events (this is so much more productive than posting a picture on facebook- commenting is not caring, people! Don't add to the noise, just do something). I love that they allow you to share what you did to potentially inspire others. It is a National Day of service, so how can we step up our serving? I posted this list a few years ago and have even more ideas now of things you can do even with a little one in tow:

volunteering site


1. Share what you have, donate things you don't need. It's going to get cold- donate old coats, socks, and hats. If you can't get out tomorrow, just clean out your closet and donate it.
2. Call a local public school or PTA to see how you can help support the new school year.
3. Go for a walk where you smile and say hello to everyone you see. Make small talk, make the world feel smaller.
4. Buy something local. Support the businesses that employ your area.
5. Sign up to volunteer somewhere new (let's just all do this)-you can find organizations here.
6. Take treats or bread to your local firehouse or police station.
7.  Commit to having a conversation with one new person a day. When you hear there is a protest somewhere this year, go and make an effort to hear what they are saying.
8. Organize a group to fix something you didn't break.
9. Take public transit (and give up your seat!), use reusable bags, and turn off the lights in rooms you aren't in.
10. Go visit a nursing home. Be somebody's company for the afternoon. If you are raising little ones in a city, they actually have programs where you take them to visit. Your toddler can be a massively helpful volunteer.
11. Build something. Sign up for one day with National Rebuilding Day, Habitat for Humanity, or another non-profit that provides homes and labor to people who need them.
12. Get to know one of your neighbors. Can you name all of your neighbors? If not, set it as a goal.
13. Write your local congressmen. Write about what you care about, to encourage them to make a move, or to thank for the job they are doing, but write them.
14. Donate blood. Muslims for Life do a blood drive every year on this day.
15. Write 20 thank you notes- who could you thank?
16. Start a tradition in your neighborhood.
17.Do a service project with the kids in your life. Teach future generations about our responsibilities to serve one another. Go clean up a street or help someone you know needs it.
18. Plant flowers or a tree. Weed a public area that needs care.
19.Stand up for someone who is in a vulnerable position, who has less money, power, or privilege than you do.
20.Pick up litter. Adopt a highway.
21. Stay involved in the issues you care about. Stand up for our veterans and follow initiatives that get them the medical and mental health care they desperately need. Speak up for National forests and parks. Stand up against systematic and unnecessary police violence.Fight the plastic bag lobby. Get as far as signing petitions and knowing what is going on.
22.Go get to know someone who is nothing like you. Promote tolerance within yourself.
23. Donate money- do it to help get people clean water or to feed their family (yes in the United States- we still have lots of people who need help)
24.Let someone else go first.
25. Support the victims' families through organizations like Peaceful Tomorrows.
26. Write to Words for the Wounded.
27. Share your creativity- look into ways to contribute to local public art, or small theaters, museum events, or city bands. Make things with others,
28. Give up using straws! Do you know how much waste we make as a country just from plastic straws? If you don't need one (and seriously, most of us don't), don't use one. It's the theme this month.
29. Learn how to start your own organization or event at CreateTheGood.org. If you can identify a problem or gap in your community, it is also your responsibility to do something about it.
30. Go to a remembrance service. Be there for someone.
31.Volunteer to tutor or mentor someone who needs it. Have one volunteer commitment you do every week (many of us are already there- Millenials are one of the most volunteering generations in history.
32. Take the time to really listen.
33.Support teachers and their classrooms. Ask them what they need and go get them that.
34. Turn off your tv and computer for the whole day.
35. Smile at everyone. Since we live in the US, it is not that suggestive.
36. Create jobs by buying American- it is definitely more expensive, but some of it just works. No one wants to fund unsafe conditions or child workers, so don't support these things with your money. Give an American company who is ethical your money.
37.Carry a bag in your bag to collect trash in.
38. Be kind in airports. Actually talk to people.
39. Leave your cell phone in your pocket. If someone you love is on fire, they will call you. No need to check facebook to kill time. Why are we all living our lives like we are killing time?
40.Recycle. Compost if you can. To be America the Beautiful, we need to stop treating our country like one giant landfill.
41. Join Team in Training or participate in an athletic event for a cause Sounds horrible to me, but I bet someone who reads this would kick ass at this!
42. Serve a meal at a homeless or youth shelter.
43. Get involved in campus treatment of sexual assault. Write your alma mater and their alumni association. Put your money where your mouth is and don't support organizations that protect the mistreatment of women.
44. Travel somewhere else in the US, even if it is the next town over, and talk to people there. Experience the difference.
45. Stand up for someone online- Online harassment is crazypants. When you see it on one of the sites you read, say something,
46. When you see a police officer, always say thank you. Don't feel like you have enough chances? Write them a card and send it.
47. Sign up for emergency training, so you can give CPR to someone who needs it if the time comes.
48. Acknowledge someone who you know already does so much for other people. Show gratitude and encouragement.
49. Ok, everyone do this too- invite someone new over for dinner. Feed someone and get to know them.
50. Do something, anything, on purpose to make your world a little better.


Ooooh, baby, this is just the tip of the iceberg, right? I am curious if people really do volunteer on this day, because posting a meme really doesn't seem like enough. What are you going to do tomorrow, even if it is small? Let me know what you come up with!

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