Volunteers thank first responders in Pittsburgh area by delivering meals on 9/11

It’s been 21 years since the 911 terrorist attack, and in remembering that dark day, a Sewickley woman continues to thank first responders in the Pittsburgh area.

Josie White was living outside New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, and the memories are still vivid.

“I could smell the city burning from my house,” White said. “I had lost neighbors. In my neighborhood, we probably lost 30 people. It was devastating to all of us. We walked around like zombies for days.”

PHOTOS: Pennsylvania residents remember Americans who died during 9/11 attacks

Josie said she needed to mourn with other people. She donated her time and helped in any way she could to offer support, including cooking for first responders.

She continued to do that when she moved to Sewickley and started feeding the firefighters at the Pittsburgh station where her brother worked.

Then she created the 911 Dinner. In nearly 10 years, it has blossomed.

“From feeding four firemen in the Hill District in the city of Pittsburgh, we are now feeding every fireman in the city of Pittsburgh, which is 1,100 people, and my heart has grown with it,” White said.

911 Dinner volunteers make delicious homemade meals and deliver them on 9/11 to police, fire and EMS personnel in the city and beyond.

Barbara and Robert Thaw have been volunteering with 911 Dinner since almost the beginning.

“It’s a good reminder that 911, while terrifying and filled with just horror, it also ... brings us around to these heroes that are continuing day in and day out,” Barbara Thaw said.

There were volunteers as young as 12 years old, including neighbor Victoria Bacchi.

“It’s good. I feel like I’m helping them get energy so they can save other people,” Bacchi said.

Josie said the reaction she got from first responders was overwhelming.

“They are also grateful. They are all thanking us for the food as we’re trying to say no, no, no, this is about thanking you, let us take this day and thank you for it,” White said.

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