Penn State Mont Alto classmates remember 9/11 with day of community service

September 10, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER |
  • Penn State Mont Alto student Matthew Bettencourt serves up his own special M&M pancakes during Saturday's community service brunch at Candleheart in Chambersburg, Pa. Students took part in a community service project in remembrance of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
By Roxann Miller

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Katie Monteleone was in third grade when the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center in New York.

"I remember sitting in class and our teacher telling us that something had happened. They weren't sure if they could tell us what had happened," said Monteleone, 19. "I just remember panic and our teachers not knowing what to do. It was just a very sad day."

The Penn State Mont Alto freshman and other classmates decided to remember Sept. 11 with a day of community service Saturday.

One group of students served meals, cleaned and played games with children at Candleheart, a residential facility in Chambersburg that offers a rehabilitation program for homeless and prison citizens. Another group served at the New Hope Shelter in Waynesboro, Pa.

"I think it shows that if your community gets down, you can always bring it back up," Monteleone said. "We're all one community. We're all one together, and if we find a way to help each other in a time of need, then we can always help each other anytime. We don't have to wait for a disaster to help."

On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Kimberly Hoover, associate director of student affairs at Penn State Mont Alto, said she was inspired by the way the community came together during the tragedy of 9/11 and wants to instill a similar sense of helping others in her students and the community at large.

"Of course, we remember all those who lost their lives on 9/11, but we wanted to focus on and honor those who were of service during the 9/11 tragedy, many of whom risked their own lives to help," Hoover said. "Our hope is that the community will see our students giving back and become inspired to do so themselves."

According to the Associated Press, 2,977 people died as a result of the attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and in the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa. The figures do not include the 19 hijackers aboard the four airplanes involved.

As Matthew Bettencourt, 18, a sophomore, was flipping flapjacks like a professional, he took a minute to reflect on the day that changed America.

Initially, he was joking about being called Emeril in the kitchen and carefully placing M&Ms into pancakes to the children's enjoyment.

But then, his tone turned somber.

His father was employed at the Pentagon, but he was across the street getting toner when the plane struck.

"My dad was involved (in 9/11)," Bettencourt said. "But he just got lucky, or he might not have been here today."

While Bettencourt is pretty sure his father lost co-workers in the attack, he said his father doesn't talk about the attack.

A lot of volunteers helped out during 9/11, and Bettencourt said, "This is my way of doing my small part."

"It's part of the reason we rebuilt so rapidly," he said. "When people band together and help their fellow man, there's nothing you can't accomplish."

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