WASHINGTON, DC -- On Sept. 11, thousands of youth in all 50 States and the District of Columbia will begin to perform volunteer service projects in honor of those lost in last year's terrorist attacks. President Bush urged all Americans to make a lifetime commitment to volunteerism by issuing a "Call to Service" in his January State of the Union Address.
"We wanted to show our support for the President by uniting across America this Sept. 11 in honor of those lost. Through volunteer work, young people can play a big role in protecting America and the freedom we all love," said Melissa Helmbrecht, the 26 year-old founder of Champions of Hope and the United Day of Service.
The United Day of Service presented by Champions of Hope is made possible by the support of Youth Service America, the nation's leading youth-service organization. Champions of Hope and Youth Service America envision youth-led service-learning projects for the United Day of Service organized around five themes: literacy, hunger, the environment, emergency relief and children's health.
One of the most important projects youth will begin to perform on Sept. 11 is the Freedom Readers Program, in partnership with the National Center for Family Literacy. NCFL is providing literacy expertise to help youth collect 911,000 books through Sept. 11, 2003. The program is made possible by a $250,000 grant from Verizon Foundation.
"Literacy is a natural fit as one of the theme projects for the United Day of Service on Sept. 11, and Verizon is proud to support it," said Mary Beth Bardin, Verizon executive vice president for Public Affairs and Communications. "Improving literacy is a vital part of building a stronger America and helps support our democratic society."
Through its signature philanthropy program, Verizon Reads, the company seeks to improve literacy levels in America through a combination of corporate philanthropy, consumer and customer outreach and employee volunteerism.
People across America are pledging to perform literacy projects. For example, Nadia Campbell, an 18 year-old who volunteered for a month at Ground Zero, is planning a book drive with senior citizens.
"Seniors need help reading things as simple and important as their mail. There is a lot teens can do to help. At the same time, seniors have books they can donate to encourage teens to read," Campbell said.
The impact of Campbell's project in New York will be magnified by hundreds of other projects taking place from Los Angeles, to Florida, to Camden, New Jersey. Campbell also is featured in the United Day of Service public service announcement to run on over 5,000 movie screens nationwide starting in late August.
About Champions of Hope
Champions of Hope is a global team of youth dedicated to tackling personal and social challenges through service. The team coordinates the use of technology, entertainment, education and competition to achieve this mission. Champions of Hope is working to engage 911,000 youth in service from Sept. 11, 2002, through Sept. 11, 2003. To pledge or participate in United Day of Service, visit www.uniteddayofservice.org or www.ChampionsofHope.org.
About Youth Service America
YSA is a resource center and premier alliance of 300+ organizations committed to increasing the quantity and quality of opportunities for young Americans to serve locally, nationally, or globally. Founded in 1986, YSA's mission is to strengthen the Effectiveness, Sustainability, and Scale of the youth service and service-learning fields. YSA envisions a powerful network of organizations committed to making service the common expectation and common experience all young Americans. A strong youth service movement will create healthy communities, and foster citizenship, knowledge, and the personal development of young people. YSA coordinates National Youth Service Day, the largest annual service event in the world, taking place April 11-13, 2003. For more information, visit www.YSA.org and www.SERVEnet.org.
The first annual United Day of Service is an event conceived and organized by Champions of Hope and supported by Youth Service of America, the nation's leading youth-service organization. In addition to the service projects across the country, United Day of Service will recognize event participants at a special ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on Sept. 11.
"A majority of young people expressed frustration that they could not do more to help after 9/11," said Melissa Helmbrecht, Founder and CEO of Champions of Hope. "By giving youth the opportunity to honor those who were lost through service, United Day of Service will turn pain into power and hurt into hope."
"As our greatest national asset, it is only fitting that younger Americans commemorate the attacks with acts of kindness and service to others," said Steve Culbertson, President and CEO of Youth Service America. "Millions of young people serving together in honor of others and creating a tidal wave of good sends a powerful message of hope and healing around the globe."
Champions of Hope and Youth Service America envision youth-led service-learning projects for the United Day of Service organized around five themes. The groups prepared planning guides for these projects and recruited private sector and nonprofit sector organizations to sponsor and implement the activities from Sept. 11, 2002, through Sept. 11, 2003:
- Literacy: Projects to collect 911,000 books in partnership with the National Center for Family Literacy and sponsored by the Verizon Foundation;
- Hunger: Projects to distribute 911,000 pounds of food for the hungry in partnership with Feed the Children;
- Environment: Projects to plant 911,000 trees in partnership with American Forests;
- Emergency Relief: Projects to raise $911,000 to benefit fire, police, and rescue organizations in partnership with the National Volunteer Fire Council;
- Children's Health: Projects to raise funds for polio eradication in partnership with the United Nations Foundation.
In addition to the events planned for Sept. 11th, the following organizations are helping youth answer President Bush's "Call to Service."
- The Points of Light Foundation to give youth the opportunity to register their projects in honor of specific victims lost in the attack;
- Regal Entertainment Group (Regal, United Artists, & Edwards) nationwide will show United Day of Service PSAs and serve popcorn in United Day of Service branded bags;
- MindArrow Systems to conduct one of the largest email broadcast campaigns through September to increase participation;
- DisneyHand to support the national promotion of the United Day of Service;
- Weekly Reader Corporation, a publisher of materials for elementary and secondary schools, serving over 90 percent of the school districts in the United States, is the United Day of Service and Seasons of Hope media partner. Starting in September, log-on to WeeklyReader.com to receive on-line information about the five important projects.