Australian Teenager Reminds Americans of ‘9/11 Never Forget’

19th annual Pay It Forward 9/11 focusing on gratitude for healthcare heroes, essential workers and the arts

Rebecca Wilson of Sydney, Australia will spend her Sept 11 birthday delivering care packages to coronavirus testing staff. (Photo: Business Wire)

NEW YORK--()--A Sydney, Australia teenager, whose birthday is September 11, will be organizing care packages in Sydney this Friday for local coronavirus testing staff, inspired by the US-based Pay it Forward 9/11 movement.

The 19th annual Pay it Forward 9/11 offers a unique way to bring light to dark times. On one of America’s darkest days in history (September 11, 2001), the people of small towns in the island province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada freely expressed compassion to tens of thousands of unexpected airline travelers who needed basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter for five days.

Pay it Forward 9/11 was started in 2002 by an airline passenger who was stranded there, wondering if people in other countries would do the same. Each year, on the anniversary of 9/11, people are encouraged to honor all who were killed that day by doing three random acts of kindness for strangers on Friday, September 11, 2020.

“Even in the midst of the pandemic, Pay it Forward 9/11 can be accomplished while respecting social distancing,” said founder and president Kevin Tuerff. “We’re encouraging people to focus their actions on recipients representing healthcare frontline workers, essential workers, and those who work in the arts. These people have suffered greatly and made great sacrifices, and they deserve our gratitude.”

Thanks to the Tony-nominated Broadway musical Come From Away and Tuerff’s related book, Channel of Peace: Stranded in Gander on 9/11, families, workplaces, schools, and houses of worship from the US, Canada, UK and Australia have adopted this grassroots tradition.

Following are some tips for each of these three different audiences:


  1. Contact a local hospital’s public relations or human resources department, offering to have food (breakfast/lunch or dinner) delivered safely through an accepted delivery service.
  2. Send thank you cards or emails to anyone you know who works in a hospital, doctor’s office (this includes janitors, administrators and cooks) or local public health authority.
  3. Donate blood. Blood collection centers follow the highest standards of safety and infection control.


According to government rules, this includes workers in many sectors, including energy, child care, water and wastewater, agriculture and food production, critical retail (i.e. grocery stores, hardware stores, mechanics), critical trades (construction workers, electricians, plumbers, etc.), transportation, nonprofits and social service organizations and teachers.

  1. Give away free facemasks with fun, supportive messages to essential workers.
  2. Buy an online gift card. Print out and deliver (safely) by email, mailing or leaving an envelope for a bus driver, garbage worker, grocery clerk, teacher, etc.
  3. For first responders, call ahead to a Fire, EMS or Police department to arrange for delivery of a meal, snacks or dessert.


  1. Help those onstage and behind the scenes get health care, emergency financial assistance and counseling. Donate money to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Covid-19 Emergency Assistance Fund at
  2. Search for online stores by local artists, musicians and designers and purchase an item or two from their catalogue.
  3. Donate art supplies to visual artists (ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, crafts, photography, video, film making and architecture).

We encourage everyone to share their story by posting a related photo of your Pay it Forward 9/11 action on your social media channels, using #PayitForward911.

The 19th anniversary of Pay it Forward 9/11 is generously supported by the producers and writers of Come From Away musical. Learn more at or the book Channel of Peace: Stranded in Gander on 9/11. You can also register for Pay It Forward 9/11 on the Facebook page to be inspired by others with additional Pay it Forward actions.

Pay it Forward 9/11, Inc. is a nonprofit organization registered in the State of New York.


Kevin Tuerff

Release Summary

19th annual Pay it Forward 9/11


Kevin Tuerff