An MIT Activities Committee trip to New York in December was transformed into a journey of healing and hope for some members of the MIT community who visited ground zero bearing gifts of warm socks and steel-toed boots for the workers still cleaning "The Pile."
The MIT group visited St. Paul's Chapel, the small church at the edge of ground zero whose sanctuary has been used as a refuge for construction workers since the fiery collapse of the World Trade Center.
The church seats all have blankets, pillows and teddy bears so workers can rest. The walls of the sanctuary are covered with hundreds of drawings and thank-you notes to relief workers from children all over the world. Meals, medical care and other resources are available to all WTC site workers.
A second MITAC-sponsored trip to New York will take some of the same people back to ground zero, where work on the remains of the twin towers is expected to continue through the winter. The MIT volunteers will help serve meals and perform other tasks at St. Paul's. This trip is being sponsored in part by the Office of the Executive Vice President.
Although the bus is already filled, trip coordinator Gayle Willman suggested ways that members of the MIT community can help workers still cleaning the wreckage in wintry conditions.
"There is a waiting list of those who need new steel-toed leather boots--the site is very hard on clothing and footwear," said Willman, who was part of the first MITAC trip. "Many of the construction workers are there as volunteers, donating their time after working regular hours elsewhere. Contributions toward the purchase of boots may be sent to the MITAC office in Room 50-005. Make checks payable to MIT, with a notation that the funds are for WTC boots."
Other supplies are also needed, such as new sweatshirts, new knit caps and new ski-band ear-warmers (all in black or navy); chewing gum and hard candy; candles (tea lights, votives and devotional candles only); hand-warmers and foot-warmers; small bottles of hand-sanitizing gel; and lip balm. Items may be dropped off at the MITAC office or in Room 9-250 no later than Thursday, Jan. 24.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 16, 2002.