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Sept. 11 artifact unveiling to kick off HopeFest at Maine East

Updated: November 4, 2011 5:02PM

A ceremony unveiling a six-foot tall, 200-pound steel beam from the World Trade Center, now belonging to the Park Ridge Fire Department, will kick off an event recognizing the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The ceremony will be at 7:30 a.m. Sept. 11 during HopeFest at Maine East High School, 2601 W. Dempster St., Park Ridge.

The artifact, publicly presented for the first time, will be transported on a fire engine to the front steps of the high school, and will be accompanied by a police and fire honor guard during the ceremony.

Between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. the artifact will be guarded by a “silent guard” of two Park Ridge firefighters, said Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Sorensen. During that time visitors can view the piece and touch it if they would like.

“The intent is for people to come up and pay their respects,” Sorensen said.

The Fire Department hopes to incorporate the piece into a Sept. 11 memorial in Park Ridge.

At noon a National Moment of Remembrance will also take place, Sorensen said. At that time, sirens will sound and church bells will ring for 1 minute.

The remainder of HopeFest, a nationwide event calling on citizens to “reclaim 9/11 as a day of hope,” will be an opportunity for people to take part in volunteer activities. Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up at by clicking the “volunteer” tab or they can come directly to Maine East High School, said Ed Hansen, a HopeFest organizer.

The day’s activities include:

• volunteer work projects, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at several locations, including the Park Ridge Youth Campus, First United Methodist Church of Park Ridge, Avenues to Independence and Bethany Terrace in Morton Grove. At the Park Ridge Youth Campus, 733 N. Prospect Ave., volunteers are needed to prepare the campus for new playground equipment that will be installed in October; at the Methodist church, 418 W. Touhy Ave., a food collection will take place in addition to cookie baking and packing of appreciation gift bags for first responders; at Avenues to Independence volunteers are needed to work with residents on landscaping the home at 100 N. Clifton Ave.; and at Bethany Terrace, 8425 Waukegan Road, Morton Grove, singers are sought to perform in a choir and visit with residents.

• a food drive from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Maine East. Volunteers are needed to receive, sort and deliver food.

• Kids Fair from noon to 3 p.m. at Maine East. Advocate Lutheran General Hospital will host an informational fair on fire, Internet, cell phone, train and pet safety, with activities that include a DUI simulation and family disaster readiness. Kohl Children’s Museum will also provide activities.

• a blood drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Maine East, by LifeSource.

• CPR training from 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. at Maine East, offered by Resurrection Health Care.

• health screenings from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Maine East. Free walk-in health screenings will be offered.

• recycling of small electronics from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Maine East, offered by Avenues to Independence.

• a Salvation Army disaster-response class from 1-2:30 p.m. at Maine East.

• letter writing from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Maine East. Volunteers are sought to write to letters of appreciation to members of the military serving overseas and to local first responders.

Food will also be provided by the Salvation Army.

The day will conclude with a celebration from 3-4:30 p.m., featuring music, food, guest speakers and fellowship.

“We feel that there is a strong need for people to come together as we honor the tenth anniversary of 9/11,” Al Bartel, event coordinator of HopeFest, said in a news release. “It’s important to focus on providing services that not only feed our bodies, but also nourish the hunger in our souls and our hunger for peace and reconciliation at this time.”

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