GOFFSTOWN — Scores of St. Anselm College students will fan out as volunteers in Greater Manchester today, visiting schools, parishes and parks; helping out at homeless shelters and soup kitchens; and serving as Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
It is the school’s second annual 9/11 Remembrance and Day of Service, a remembrance of the attacks and student-driven call to action in recognizing the enormous effort to heal the country that followed.
“It’s not just what happened on 9/11 that matters, but also what happened on the days after when the whole country came together,” said Lyndsay Robinson, a St. Anselm senior and president of the student body.
Robinson was but 9 years old, an elementary school student in Tewksbury, Mass., on the day terrorists attacked the United States, killing 2,977 people in New York City, Shanksville, Pa. and Washington D.C.
“The boy who was sitting next to me in my fourth grade class, his dad was in one of the planes that crashed into the tower,” Robinson said. “I think that day kind of changed who I am as a person in terms of patriotism and wanting to serve the country in some capacity.”
The Day of Service is now in its second year as part of St. Anselm’s annual commemoration of the attacks and the American response.
“I think it speaks to the mission of the institution and the values that come with that, the Benedictine values that speak to serving others,” said St. Anselm President Steven DiSalvo. The fact that the students put this together and are orchestrating all the activities on their own is paramount to the whole effort; it is not someone telling them what to do, it is the students deciding what to do, where they want to do it and how they want to do it.”
St. Anselm College is conducted by the Catholic Benedictine order.
The service component has grown to include about 200 students who will help at 21 locations in the area — a healthy increase from the seven projects included a year ago. Alumni are becoming part of the day’s events, and representatives of first responders in Greater Manchester will be guests at an afternoon barbecue.St. Anselm students have matured in a darker world than their parents.
“We saw so much evil in a short period of time,” Robinson said. “You can’t go to the movie theaters, you can’t go to the mall, you can’t go to a grocery store, you can’t go to an elementary school, you can’t even run the Boston Marathon without worrying if something is going to happen any more.”
Part of the St. Anselm observance included a documentary about the 9/11 experience and its aftermath, which DiSalvo said had a profound impact on many students.
“Understanding the context by which they are going to do service has changed their lives,” DiSalvo said. “This is a moment they will not forget.”
Robinson said she will not forget the response of St. Anselm students, alumni, staff, faculty and administrators to the call to action.
“For me, St. Anselm College has shown me that there is good in the world,” she said.