While many Americans felt powerless to act following the events of Sept. 11, Kerriann Powers turned her feelings into a pin-making enterprise and raised $3,400 for New York City survivors.
Powers, 15, a 10th-grader at Juneau-Douglas High School, visited New York City on a family vacation in August. Because her brother Tim Powers Jr., 17, had just become a volunteer firefighter in Juneau, the family stopped by the Eighth Avenue midtown fire station.
"I said, 'Hi, I'm a firefighter. I'll give you a patch if you will send me a T-shirt,' " Tim Jr. recalled.
A few weeks later came the attacks on the World Trade Center and news that hundreds of firefighters had perished.
"It really hit hard in our house when we received the Sept. 18th edition of the Empire. On the front page was the ladder truck that my son posed in front of," said Tim Powers Sr. The family learned 15 men from the fire station had been killed when the towers collapsed.
"It's really strange that the one station we visited was the picture on the front page," Kerriann said.
Tim Jr. sent an e-mail of condolence to the firehouse. Then, on the morning of Sept. 22, the family was awakened by a call from New York firefighter Dave Turner.
"He wanted to talk to the children to make sure that they were handling this thing OK," Tim Sr. said. "He sounded so exhausted. I was surprised that he was able to stay awake and yet he still took the time to call just to check on the kids."
Frustrated she couldn't post a flag on her school locker, Kerriann began to wear a beaded flag pin leftover from a crafts class. Then she made pins for friends. After Turner's call, she decided to sell enough pins to raise $100 for the family of each of the 15 killed firefighters. Fred Meyer donated $25, which she spent on safety pins.
"Mom and Dad have been helping me because people were asking for them," she said.
Kerriann sold some pins to teachers. Her mother, Luann Powers, a registered nurse in the office of Dr. Joy Neyhart, marketed some to the Tongass Eye Clinic.
"We have gotten anywhere from $1 to $50 for a pin," Kerriann said. As of last Thursday, she had raised $500 toward her $1,500 goal.
Late last week, her father Tim Powers Sr., an associate professor at the University of Alaska Southeast, attended a meeting of the Alaska Community College Federation of Teachers in Anchorage. He had 30 pins with him. The union donated $2,500.
"While I was waiting for my plane in the Ted Stevens International Airport, I had my travel bag with the last 10 pins attached. In a matter of minutes they were all gone with over $100 donated. Our biggest trouble is finding safety pins," Tim Sr. said.
"This is more than I ever imagined. I guess I have to change my goal now," Kerriann said.
Kerriann Powers' flag pins are available at the UAS bookstore.
Ann Chandonnet can be reached at achandonnet@juneauempire.
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