By Sudha Kamath
Hundreds of students, faculty and staff joined with community members on this Mason Nation 9/11 Day of Service to roll up their sleeves in 10 service projects supporting George Mason University outreach initiatives year-round.
This is the second year George Mason has joined the largest annual day of charitable engagement in the United States to commemorate the loss of 2,977 lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It’s the first year students organized the day through the new Mason Service Council, led by students Saber Chowdhury and Nubia Del Carpio, with advisor Kevin Stoy.
This morning, in an opening ceremony outside the Johnson Center, City of Fairfax mayor R. Scott Silverthorne thanked Mason for its contributions to the area. “There’s no better way in my mind to honor this day than with a day of community service.”
New Century College’s Social Action and Integrative Learning hosted a Service Fair showcasing year-round volunteer and donation opportunities on- and off-campus.
Outside the Johnson Center, Mason volunteers met members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8469 in the “Buddy Poppy” fundraising drive coordinated by Alpha Phi sorority member Caroline Whitlock, a junior majoring in government and the secretary of the Mason Service Council. The Baltimore native says this service project “stood out to me because we get to honor those who served.”
Mason volunteers also helped spruce up the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8469 in Fairfax Station, Va. Funds from the Giving Back Filipino Style fundraiser at Skyline and Hanover benefit the Tambayan Children’s Center, which empowers domestically and sexually abused children, and the indigenous village of Nangcaon, which is facing exploitation from mining companies.
Kappa Phi Gamma sorority created care packages to donate to cancer patients at Inova Children’s Hospital in Falls Church, Va. The Hispanic Student Association and other student volunteers led the children of Mason’s Child Development Center in emergency preparedness activities. The preschoolers also met and thanked first responders from the City of Fairfax Fire Department and the University Police Department.
Mason’s Honors College and Phi Kappa Sigma collected clothes for HomeAid’s Women Giving Back program. The James Mott Community Assistance Program, Alpha Kappa Alpha and Alpha Phi Alpha led a food and monetary donation drive to support senior citizens and people with HIV/AIDS.
“We’re passionate about community outreach,” says Jason Clarke, Alpha Phi Alpha and Mason Service Council leader for this project, which began collecting donations two weeks ago at campus events, residence halls and at the Division of University Life’s Student Involvement office.
Mason’s Organic Gardening Association and Students Helping Honduras planted research signs in the Innovation Food Forest. The Organic Gardening Association also led volunteers at the Potomac Heights Vegetable Garden. The Prince William Campus Community Garden got a boost too, on a day that holds special significance for Charvis Campbell, assistant dean for University Life at the Prince William Campus.
“I was personally impacted by 9/11. I had just returned to New York City from Los Angeles and had only been in town for a few weeks before that day,” he recalls. “I worked on Wall Street in the World Financial Center, right next door to the towers. It’s haunting to remember how that day played out.”
He adds, “Participating in the 9/11 Mason Nation Day of Service and other community service programs is a strong reminder to me about how good can come out of bad; how strangers can come together and help each other in time of need; and the importance of family and friends.”
Tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Center for the Arts, novelist Roxana Robinson and journalist David Finkel will hold Fall for the Book readings on their works related to military service.
In an event organized by Fourth Estate, the student newspaper in the Division of University Life’s Student Media, candles will be floated on Mason Pond to honor 9/11 victims. President Ángel Cabrera is expected to make remarks, followed by a moment of silence at 9:11 p.m. in the Evening of Reflection.