How you can help honor 9/11 victims through public service

(CNN) — In the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the United States revealed its true colors. The stunned nation came together as a resolute community. Political rancor, sports rivalries, even road rage all subsided. And above all, a spirit of service took hold as people pitched in to do whatever they could to help the country heal.

Fifteen years later, that call to service still resounds. September 11 is now the annual National Day of Service and Remembrance. Each year, organizations across the country step up with a wide variety of volunteer opportunities.

Organizations host volunteer opportunities

“We anticipate activities in all 50 states,” said Samantha Jo Warfield from the September 11th National Day of Service. “There will be opportunities for hundreds of thousands of volunteers to paint and refurbish homes, run food drives, spruce up schools and support veterans, soldiers and first responders.”

Leona Hiraoka from the Points of Light Foundation expects more than 15,000 volunteers to participate in 30 events across the country, “From helping animals to packing a half-million meals for the needy.” Points of Light will also host a large volunteer fair at the National Mall in Washington on September 11. But if you are seeking local chances to help out, Hiraoka said you can go to Points of Light’s website and type in your ZIP code. You can find other local volunteer opportunities at VolunteerMatch.org.

Charities take donations in honor of 9/11 victims

Many groups upholding the spirit of 9/11 service are taking donations. The FealGood Foundation provides advocacy and support to 9/11 responders who are now dealing with catastrophic health issues. The Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund distributes financial aid to children of 9/11 victims. The Tunnel to Towers Foundation sets up 5K runs nationwide to raise money for veterans and first responders who lost limbs in the line of duty. The Leary Firefighters Foundation helps fire departments buy new equipment. There are also maintenance funds for the 9/11 memorials in New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The US Congress designated September 11 as a national day of service seven years ago. People who lost family in the 2001 attacks requested the official day as a way to honor their loved ones. If you would like to answer that call by volunteering, donating or showing that you care,┬ávisit CNN’s Public Good site.