KANSAS CITY, Mo. — This weekend and for the next week, people all over the country will be doing random acts of kindness for strangers meant to honor the thousands of people who died in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
It’s part of the charity Pay It Forward 9/11’s effort to mark the days leading up to that date each year.
It all started when Kevin Tuerff’s flight from Paris was diverted to Gander, Newfoundland in Canada on 9/11 and he was stranded there for days with thousands of other passengers.
“Our captain came on the PA system and said, ‘Due to a terrorist attack in the United States, we’ll be landing in Gander,” said Tuerff. “And that’s all he said for hours.”
While the United States was coming to terms with a massive terrorist attack on U.S. soil, the very small but very kind Canadian town would make all the difference for travelers like Tuerff.
“When they brought us into their county and they let us into their homes and their schools and their churches and they gave us food, clothing, shelter, it was incredible,” Tuerff said. “And when I came back to Texas, I wondered, would we do the same?”
The experience is documented in the Broadway play “Come From Away.”
But even before that, Tuerff wanted to do his own work making the world a nicer place, like the one he experienced in Gander.
“People would go buy lunch for firefighters or one crew they went down to the traffic court and paid for somebody’s traffic tickets,” said Tuerff. “Who does that?”
He points out there doesn’t have to be a lot of planning, which allows people all over the nation and the metro to do their own part.
“One of the things that we remember about that day and about the time after it is that we were united as a country and I think that felt pretty good,” said Pay It Forward 9/11 Board Member and Kansas City metro resident Ben Walker.
So, this weekend, Walker plans to buy pizza for people experiencing homelessness, pay for coffee for people behind him in line, and buy dessert for local firefighters. Early next week, he’ll work with a local business to get their employees into the community to do similar works.
After they do it, they’ll talk about why they’re doing those random acts of kindness while sharing them on social media using the hashtags: #PayItForward911 and #11DaysOfKindness.
“If everybody would just do three acts of kindness, then the ripple effect of that is just overwhelming and I think by people seeing what others are doing, I think people became inspired by that,” Walker said.
Spreading kindness out of tragedy.
“We said we would never forget what happened on 9/11 so this is a chance to remind people and to flip the images of the planes and the towers and turn that into a better side of humanity,” Tuerff said.
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