Nearly 1,000 volunteers pack meals for 9/11 day of service in Twin Cities

Published 5:45 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2023

By Tim Nelson

Volunteers from more than two dozen companies and nonprofits took to the basketball court at the University of St. Thomas on Monday — with tubs of oatmeal.

It was the main ingredient in hundreds of thousands of meals measured out and sealed at the Twin Cities gathering — among some 6.4 million meals expected to be prepared across the country Monday during a national day of service meant to commemorate the lives of those lost in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

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“We’re going to pack over 600,000 meals today,” said Mike Stephenson, director of communications for Second Harvest Heartland, which helped organized the event. “We’re packing shelf stable meals, they’re going to go all over the state and help keep Minnesotans fed.”

Volunteers started packaging up the meals shortly after 9 a.m. and were set to keep working through the afternoon.

Keyle Glinsey, a flight attendant with Delta, was there with five other flight attendants and a technical operations staffer, packing up apple-cinnamon oatmeal at a folding table on what is usually the basketball court sideline at St. Thomas.

Glinsey said packing the meals seemed like a worthy effort as the nation remembered the attacks and the lives lost and forever changed that morning 22 years ago.

“I just think about so many people that lost so much. So it’s nice to give back,” Glinsey said.

Volunteers were measuring out oatmeal and adding dried apples and other ingredients to specially marked bags, heat sealing the bags, applying expiration date stickers and boxing them up — while everyone was sporting stylish blue hair nets, and most with T-shirts from their employers or volunteer organizations.

The food was sealed up in special “Meals of Hope” boxes, distributed by a Florida-based hunger relief charity and by 9/11 Day, a New York-based nonprofit that has been working to turn the anniversary of the terror attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania into the nation’s largest day of community service.

Brenda McIlveen, manager of provider experience at UCare, was at the St. Thomas volunteer gathering with more than a dozen of her colleagues.

“With 9/11 it was a tragic time in the United States, and I have family in New York as well, so this is one of the ways I can give back,” she said.