Paying It Forward: WTC Widow Starts Charity For Children
08/28/2002 09:37 PM
Gabriel Jacobs is about to celebrate his first birthday. Born six days after his father was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center, he immediately learned how kind people can be.
From the moment he entered this world, he and his mother Jenna were showered with gifts and well wishes from people they didn't even know. And now, one year later, she has found a way to say thank you.
“I received so many gifts from strangers and from charities and from all these people that I don't know and I just wanted to say thank you by paying it forward,” Jenna said. “So as my son outgrew all the things he was given, I thought how nice it would be to continue to collect them and give them to other people.”
Jacobs founded September Smiles, an organization made up of 30 new mothers who lost their husbands on that ill-fated date. The group has put together a charity drive that will benefit children born into poverty.
“September Smiles has chosen three local organizations that work with children in poverty, including Room to Grow, the Paige Whitney Babies Center and Inwood House,” Jacobs said. “During the drive, the public can bring their new or gently-used baby things to any of the participating Gymobrees and we will collect everything and sort it and it will all be given to those organizations so families in need that don’t necessarily get the kind of publicity that we have gotten can have all those things.”
The drive will be held from October 5 through October 11 and most Gymborees in the city are participating. Several corporations are also taking part in the drive, donating everything from clothing to books. And even though the drive is weeks away, her basement is already filled with items ready to be donated.
Aside from the drive, the women of September Smiles will also be putting together and donating gift baskets, not only as a way to express their gratitude, but also to pay tribute to those lost on September 11.
“Each one of those baskets will be accompanied by a card bearing the name of the people who died on September 11,” Jacobs said. “That’s just our way of honoring our husbands and the people that we've never met but share in our tragedy.”
Jacobs said the organization is a way to carry on her husband's generosity and good nature. She hopes it reminds people to remember those you've loved, those you've lost, and to remember those you never even knew.
“My husband was Ariel Lewis Jacobs and he was the center of my world,” she said. “He was the best husband and the best friend and the best expectant father. And i just really hope he's proud.”
- Jill Scott
For more information, including a complete list of September Smiles drop-off locations, go to
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