Random acts of kindness remind people of sense of community after 9/11

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on September 9, 2011 at 7:05 PM

Updated Sunday, Sep 11 at 11:55 AM

SEATTLE -- The events of September 11 were supposed to bring us all closer together as a nation. And they did -- for a while. Ten years later, it seems we're more divided than we have been in decades.

But on the streets of Seattle Friday, a group from EnviroMedia tried, for a while anyway, to put those differences behind us, and unite people through random acts of kindness.

They delivered free flowers to unsuspecting strangers, handed out $5 bills. They even bought a couple of Australian tourists lunch.

The effort stems from EnviroMedia co-founder Kevin Tuerff's experience in Newfoundland on September 11, and how those people so selflessly helped him and thousands of others air travellers who were stranded far from home. 

"All he had was the clothes on his back," says EnviroMedia's Brandi Cook. "The community came together for 7,000 stranded people. Brought them clothes, toiletries, food and really took care of them."

The cynic might call the group's activities cute, but ultimately meaningless. But try telling that to Christie Hagan of New Jersey, who was in New York on 9/11. A decade later, she still has a tough time talking about it.

"It's hard," she says choking back tears. "Because it's still fresh in my memory."

The pay-it-forward bunch bought her a salmon at Pike Place Market, something she has always wanted to try. It was a simple act, with a far deeper significance.

"It means being American," says Christie. "It means being true, being alive." 

That's a mindset that we've let slip away since that day 10 years ago. Lynn Sorgenfrei smiles as she receives her unexpected $5 dollar bill at Westlake Center. She says, "I'd like to see us doing this sort of stuff every day, whether it's in rememberance of 9/11 or not, just being better to each other every day."

EnviroMedia is partnering with the Pay it Forward Foundation. They'll donate one dollar for every new twitter follower they get up to 10-thousand. You can follow them @PIFFoundation and learn more at www.payitforwardfoundation.org.

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