On the first day of autumn I was able to interview both Mr. Manning and Mr. Nussen about the money they raised from selling t-shirts at both the high school and 9/11 soccer game. Per my last article, there was a lot of running around and getting things ready by the two Social Studies teachers. This time, I was able to sit down with them in the Social Studies Resource Center and talk about where they are donating the t-shirt money.
Through emails with Mr. Manning, I learned that they — along with the members of the Patriots Club — will be donating the t-shirt money they raised to the 9/11 Memorial and Tunnel to Towers charity. On the surface, it may seem like they skipped over the Oceanside Community, but that’s not the case; according to Mr. Nussen they, “got that idea from a family from Oceanside. The father was a firefighter who passed away on 9/11.” In addition to Oceanside families, he also said that it was recommended to them from, “several faculty members and members of the board of Education.”
They felt that sending a portion of the money to this charity was important since it was a, “four-gold star” reviewed charity, where, “90 percent of the money goes to gold-star families, veterans, and to their families,” according to Mr. Nussen. Although they weren’t able to share the exact amount of money they were planning to send to each charity — since they have to run it by the Patriots club members — they raised almost $3,000 in total.
For those that may not know what either charity is, both give back to Gold Star families and the family members that have lost a loved one due to the terror attacks. The 9/11 memorial is located in New York City, in the exact spot where the Twin Towers stood before September 11th. There are two giant fountains, each with water falling deep into its center, symbolizing the footprints the towers left behind. Along with the memorial, there’s a museum that is dedicated to all of the people lost during and after the attacks.
The Tunnel to Towers charity origin story gave me chills when Mr. Nussen and Mr. Manning described it to me. Apparently when the towers were struck an off duty fire fighter Steven Siller tried to make his way to the scene to help. He and many others were stuck in the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel after traffic to Manhattan was closed. In a moment of true heroism he grabbed his gear from the car, put it on and ran to the towers from the tunnel where he, like so many others, met his end. Today, there is a 5K inspired by Siller where people do the exact run he did 20 years ago; some even put on their firefighting gear and run the 5K with the added weight. Mr. Nussen was happy about the awareness the charity has received for all the years since 9/11, saying, “in the past 20 years it’s gotten so much attention, so much positive feedback, and so much money — most importantly — to help people in need.”
When I asked them if they were considering doing this in the future, they hesitated and then gave me their answer. According to Mr. Manning, “We had a nice conversation with Sean Brennan — who was the representative of the Oceanside fire department — who really ran the school house green ceremony. All three of us were in agreement that we all wanted to live the motto, ‘Never Forget’, and I think what we all acknowledged was we will do something every year ….” He went on to say that for each commemorative year, 25 and 30 for example, “maybe the scale you saw this year…to make it what it was this year.”
They are planning for another school house green event next year, and once again plan on selling t-shirts. Their goal is to simply, “breathe life back into it.”
At first thought, I believed they would have raised a few hundred dollars to give to one charity, but the fact that they are able to give money to two foundations shows not just how many shirts they sold during the school day and during the soccer game, but also how much Oceanside cares. Clearly, there is a sense of compassion and the willingness to do good for others that is deeply enriched in this community, as I’m sure there was 20 years ago.
Both charities the Patriots Club plan to send the money to represent the amazing dedication people have to helping one another in a time of intense need. It represents the grief of that day, but all the September 11th’s that have been commemorated in the past and will be commemorated in years to come. It seems like this was the goal of Mr. Nussen and Mr. Manning too; to bring the school together to remember the awful events of 9/11 so that Oceanside never forgets, and Oceanside will remember forever.