The chaos of 2020 could not stop Americans from taking a somber moment to remember the events of 9/11. One of the ways the Kean community memorialized the precious lives that perished that day was by participating in the annual National Day of Service and Remembrance on Sept. 11 through virtual service events.
The Center for Leadership and Service (CLS) held multiple service projects on Sept. 11 through Zoom. The projects were as follows:
- Voter Engagement- How to Register to Vote and Help Others Register
- Coloring for a Cause
- Letter Writing to Veteran's Home
- Be my Eyes
- Blood Drive- How to Donate Blood Now!
Students were able to participate in the service projects most meaningful to them and take part in as many as they wanted. All the service projects were completely virtual, which allowed for students to safely and conveniently get involved in the projects of their choosing.
Alyssa Ramirez is a senior Biomedicine major who participated in multiple service projects, including Letter Writing for Veteran Home, Be My Eyes and Blood Drive- How to Donate Blood Now! She was inspired both by the events of 9/11 and COVID-19 to give back to those who were going through a difficult time in any ways she could.
"My biggest takeaway from the day was to always remember to give back to those around you," said Ramirez. "Right now, everyone is going through different things, such as loss, anxiety and just trying to get through the day. It is nice to take some time and forget about everything around us and focus on something bigger, like a person who may be isolated in a nursing home, or to remember the veterans who fought and risked their lives for us. Even the little things you do to give back can be meaningful and change someone's day!"
The Voter Engagement- How to Register to Vote and Help Others Register and Blood Drive- How to Donate Blood Now! service projects helped to inform students about how to become active and involved citizens outside of Kean. Students were given the information they needed to take action and affect the lives of others.
Be My Eyes was also an informational service event that informed students about the app, Be My Eyes. Be My Eyes allows sighted volunteers to "lend" their eyes to help blind and low-vision individuals through live video calls. Students were then encouraged to download the app and take part in the unique service opportunity.
"My favorite service event was learning about the Be My Eyes app," said Ramirez. "It provided me with useful information on how to help someone with just a tap of my phone. It is very easy and simple, and it gives me a way to help someone...If I had a family member with a visual disability I would love to know that there are people out there volunteering their time to help my family member through their daily activities."
The Coloring for a Cause and Letter Writing to Veteran's Home service projects required real-time participation from students. For Coloring for a Cause, students colored pictures that were then sent to Atria Senior Living Home, to bring a smile to others who are also feeling the socially isolating consequences of the pandemic. Letter Writing to Veteran's Home allowed students to write letters to veterans residing in the NJ Veterans Memorial Home in Menlo Park, to contribute something positive to their days.
"Even though Covid-19 has led to a lot of things becoming virtual, this does not mean that there are no opportunities out there. Kean is doing their best to provide virtual opportunities, especially in volunteering. Although it may not be the same as in-person [volunteering], do not let this deter you from volunteering. You can still make a difference in someone else's life," said Ramirez.