The U.S. government's "United We Serve" initiative reports thousands of volunteers pitched in Sunday to clean up parks, repaint schools and pack food supplies for those in need. One unique, diverse gathering of volunteers took place at a playground in Borough Park, Brooklyn. NY1's Asa Aarons filed the following report.
Brizzi Playground in Borough Park, Brooklyn was named after an Italian war hero. The bocce courts are gone, the park benches a bit worn, but the man who fought for freedom years ago would probably smile at the scene in the park named after him.
On Sunday, September 11, an entire neighborhood came together to fix the broken-down park. Children and adults joined together to paint the swings and paint with black, yellow and brown paint, and the symbolism was not lost on the volunteers.
"Everybody is here. New York City's a melting pot," said volunteer Derrick Barnes. "You come to Borough Park and you'll definitely see black, Spanish, Jewish, everybody's here.
Barnes was a first responder 10 years ago and he welcomed another chance to contribute.
"I'm one of the blessed ones. I'm grateful," said Barnes.
Margery Nunez almost lost her husband during the World Trade Center attack, and she wanted to volunteer to give thanks for sparing his life.
"I have to give back. Every September 11th I commemorate by doing something," said Nunez.
In addition to the painting project, residents conducted a food drive and bake sale with specific goals.
"We will use the food to support a local soup kitchen and to the Leiby Kletzky Memorial Fund," said volunteer Alexander Rappaport.
Some of the folks who grew up in the neighborhood returned on Sunday to touch a special spirit. The significance of 9/11 volunteerism was also not lost on the children.
"You are helping people who can help themselves and you're trying to undo the bad that was done on this day by doing something good for other people," said 12-year-old Lizzie Wallach.
One cannot explain today's volunteerism better than that.