NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The 9/11 anniversary has become a day of service.

Volunteers turned out in force at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

They’re scooping dry ingredients like rice and lentils into bags – each bag will become a hot meal, reported 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon.

“Our goal is to pack about 550,000 meals,” said 9/11 Day Program Director Jennifer Burke.

The meals will be shipped off to people in need, including hurricane survivors.

But volunteers had signed up to serve long in advance of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

“It really is reminiscent of the way that people responded after the attacks,” Jay Winuck, co-founder of 9/11 Day of Service, told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams. “We all came together. We focused on our common humanity, put aside our differences, worked together.”

Volunteers were singing and dancing along with upbeat music as they packed the bags, Adams reported. “It seemed to me that terrorists shouldn’t get to forever define how we forever remember 9/11. You know, we should honor the way we responded. So that’s what really this is about: Changing September 11th from a day of evil into a day of good,” David Paine, co-founder of 9/11 Day of Service told Adams.

“There’s a lot on my mind. I’m very thankful to be here,” one volunteer told Rincon.

“There’s just so much positivity that comes out of an event like this. I guess the message is together we can make tomorrow even better,” one volunteer told Adams.

At Cantor Fitzgerald, the day is synonymous with loss.

Located on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center, 658 employees died that day. CEO Howard Lutnick’s brother was one of them.

“I lost my brother Greg, he was 36,” he said, “Right after 9/11 we decided we were going to rebuild this company to take care of the 658 families that we lost.”

That’s how Cantor Fitzgerald’s charity day was born.

Now, 16 years later, it’s grown and a host of celebrities like Robert De Niro, Bridget Moynahan, and Bill Clinton help traders drum up sales, and all commissions — roughly $12-million worth — go to the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund.

“We give all of that money to about 100 different charities around the world, and we rotate those charities every year,” Lutnick said.

This year, at least $5-million was earmarked for hurricane relief.

In the Bronx residents were rolling up their sleeves and personally packing hygiene kits for people devastated by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

“In the way that many people gave back to New York when we went through our tragedies, we want to help out people across the country in Florida, Texas, and the Caribbean,” Assemblyman Michael Blake told CBS2’s Elsie Finch.

For more information about 9/11 Day of Service, click here.

 

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