“The 10,000 people of Gander mobilized to take care of us”
Leading up to the 10th anniversary of September 11, people are asked to help a stranger and share their stories through social media. EnviroMedia Social Marketing will donate $1 to the Pay It Forward Foundation for every new Twitter follower @PIFFoundation.
EnviroMedia co-founder Kevin Tuerff started Pay-It-Forward-9/11 after experiencing life-changing kindness in Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001. Tuerff returns to Gander Sept. 9 to launch the “10,000 Acts of Kindness for 9/11” effort.
Tuerff was stranded in the small Canadian town after 38 jumbo-jets unexpectedly landed there on September 11, 2001 when U.S. airspace closed due to the terrorist attacks.
Tuerff and fellow passengers sat onboard for 10 hours without knowing the extent of the attacks. When finally let off the plane, 7,000 stranded passengers had no access to their luggage, no food and no place to stay.
“The 10,000 people of Gander mobilized to take care of us,” said Tuerff. “My temporary home was a community college classroom, where I slept on the floor. Newfoundlanders fed us and drove me to buy fresh clothes. They were lifelines, helping us connect to what was happening at home.”
Six days later, Tuerff made it home to Texas. To honor Gander’s kindness, each year on Sept. 11 Tuerff gives pairs of employees at EnviroMedia $100 and time off to perform good deeds for strangers. Over the last nine years, Pay-It-Forward-9/11 has spread across the country.
Pay-It-Forward-9/11 good deeds have ranged from buying strangers coffee to baking cookies for school crossing guards.
EnviroMedia will donate $1 up to $10,000 for each new Pay It Forward Foundation follower on Twitter @PIFFoundation from September 7 through September 11.
“A lot has changed in how people communicate with one another 10 years after the attacks,” said Tuerff of this effort. “We all need to remember the unity we felt during a very difficult time for the country. This call to action is not just to talk about it on Twitter, but to do something for a stranger.”
Pay-It-Forward-9/11 received inspiration from Catherine Ryan Hyde’s 1999 novel, Pay It Forward. The Pay It Forward Foundation’s mission is to create a world where the principles of paying it forward are practiced with deliberate intent through education, sharing stories and social networking.
"The seed for the pay it forward movement is the recognition that you don't need much to change the entire world for the better,” said Hyde. “You can start with the most ordinary ingredients — the people, the community and the world you've got — to create a movement that will have a far-reaching impact."