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DC marks 9/11 day of service packing meals for those in need

Volunteers packed more than 300,000 meals to serve the DC region through the Capital Area Food Bank.

WASHINGTON — As the country reflects on the 22nd anniversary of 9/11, hundreds of volunteers gathered in D.C. to give back to people in need.

In total, they ended up packing around 325,000 meals for D.C.-area families, according to Lillian Weaver with US Hunger.

“Every year I've done this, we've increased our goal of volunteers and meals. So it just keeps getting bigger. It keeps reaching more people," Weaver said.

The volunteers met up at the DC Convention Center Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. and packed up bags of jambalaya to deliver to the Capital Area Food Bank.

“With need continuing at a record high, it’s really impressive to see everyone coming out," said Emily Lauer-Bader, Director of Corporate Partnerships for the Capital Area Food Bank.

She said in 2021, about one-third of the region experienced food insecurity, which amounts to more than 1 million people.

That's why this partnership of organizations focuses its 9/11 service efforts on food insecurity.

“9/11 was such a tragic event. This is a moment to kind of take something good from it," Serve DC Interim Director Jermain Dillon said.

Serve DC joined groups like US Hunger, Americorps, and the founder of the nationwide event, 9/11 Day.

Dillon said she was working at a law office in northeast D.C. when the plane struck the Pentagon 22 years ago.

“Phew, it was a lot," she said. "Everything stopped running, phone stopped working.”

CEO of Americorps Michael Smith said he also remembers the unity the terrorist attacks inspired.

"People weren’t only concerned about their own personal safety but were concerned about their neighbors, and that’s the spirit of unity of service that happened with 9/11 that we are trying to rekindle here today," Smith said.

From alternating scoops of lentils to cowbell rings and cheers when boxes were filled, DC neighbors unified around helping others as they remembered the lives lost.

“Well, sometimes you get good out of things that happened that are bad," volunteer Laureen Campbell said. "And so for us to sit as an American country and not to do anything, those people died in vain, but to take bad and do something good to give to others who are less fortunate, that’s a good thing.”

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