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Celebration forgotten; city rallies for victims

Thursday, September 20, 2001
By Julie Makarewicz
The Grand Rapids Press

KENTWOOD -- Shaye Schumaker covered her USA letters with gold glitter in hopes of sparking a smile on someone's face.
"I just want to do as much as I can to help somehow," Schumaker, 16, said of the card she was making for New York residents after last week's terrorist attacks.

"First, I felt like it was all unreal. Then I felt guilty that all those people died, and now I just want to help."
Schumaker was one of more than 400 people who participated in Kentwood's Community Gathering on Saturday at Bowen Street Station. The event originally was intended to celebrate the city's diversity and highlight the Paul Henry Thornapple Rail Trail, but city leaders decided to change that focus after the East Coast attacks.

Children made cards and bookmarks to send to the people of New York.
Ken Terpstra of Kentwood said he knows his 3-year-old granddaughter, Kendall Massey, doesn't comprehend any of the recent news, but he felt it was important to bring her to the event.

"She's part of this," he said. "It's her world that she's going to grow into. Someday, she will able to be told she was a part of it."

Mikel Miller, 5, was busy drawing blue, green and purple objects on his card. His mom, Kim, said she has been monitoring how much of the news Mikel sees but believes it's good for him to ask questions.

"I brought him here to show him that people care about other people and that we are a community and all of us stand together," she said. "He doesn't understand it all, but he knows something bad has happened."

"It's just sad seeing all those people die," said Ashley Goetz, 13, who worked at the card-making tables. "I just hope the cards help send the message we all care."

"I think it's wonderful to see this whole community coming together like this," Anne Goetz, Ashley's mother, said.
Adults filled more than 30 pages of a book with thoughts and prayers Saturday, and city officials said it will be available at City Hall, 4900 Breton Ave. SE, for about a week before it is sent to New York.

Hardiman said he was encouraged with the turnout.
"When one of us hurts, we all hurt," he said. "It's been a hard hit and we've felt it, but we're not destroyed."
Hardiman, along with leaders from several churches, led the group in prayers that were briefly interrupted when a plane -- an eerie reminder of the attacks -- flew overhead.

Judy Slager was shaking and fighting back tears even before the prayer service started.
"My youngest, Steven, just finished his basic training in the Air Force," she said, "and my oldest, Jonathan, left for basic training in the Navy Wednesday."

Steven is 18 and Jonathan is 20; both are graduates of South Christian High School.
"It just hits you," Judy Slager said. "I'm so proud of both of my sons. Even after this, they are eager to serve."

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