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Denver Post Article
Contributed by gretchen on: Thursday 22 November @ 05:30:47
In the PressFinally! Something in my local paper about the kindness of strangers (even if it IS a reprint from the Times)! I just wanted to submit this brief article (reprinted without permission) that appeared last weekend in the Denver Post.
Island hamlets' kindness on Sept. 11 being repaid

By Barbara Crossette - The New York Times

GANDER, Newfoundland -- It could have been a short, sweet story: planes get diverted, local people pitch in to help stranded passengers. Polite thank-you letters and gifts follow.

What happened in Newfoundland in one terrifying week in Septerber was all that. But in the next two months, the story continuted to grow.

Here and in scattered hamlets for miles around, everyone has a part of it to tell -- how half a dozen or so isolated communities have been embraced by strangers who dropped from the sky and changed their lives.

Gander was once the hub of North Atlantic air travel but is now an airport that sees few commercial aircraft on the ground while still directing them overhead. In late morning on Sept. 11, thirty-eight planes were told to land here immediately.

This town of 10,000 people with 550 hotel rooms had to find beds and food for 6,579 passengers and crew members. Other airstrip towns in Newfoundland and Labrador also had unexpected company, but not on this scale.

Fortunately, Gander -- created as a military airfield and a trans-Atlantic refuelling point in the 1930s -- has a long runway, and a disaster plan.

It also has churches, service clubs, doctors and shop owners with small-town, good-neighbor values long out of date in many places, including other parts of Canada.

"We're used to helping people," said Mayor Claude Elliott, speaking of a region that lives with rough seas, harsh weather and an uncertain economy. "I guess our biggest problem was trying to explain to people where they were."

Jake Turner, the town manager, went into action as soon as the planes started landing. Des Dillon of the Canadian Red Cross was asked to round up beds, along with Maj. Ron Stuckless of the Salvation Army, who also became the coordinator of a mass collection of food that emptied refrigerators for miles around.

Employees from the local co-op supermarket arrived with a refrigerated truck full of meat and other provisions.

People from as far away as Twillingate, and island off the Kittiwake Coast of Newfoundland, prepared sandwiches and soup for at least 200 people and drove 90 minutes to Gander to deliver it to dazed and frightened passengers being herded off planes without luggage and under intense scrutiny.

Residents and businesses of Gander and other towns supplied toothbrushes, deoderant, soap, blankets and underwear, along with offers of hot showers and guest rooms. Newtel Communications, the telephone company, set up phone banks for passengers to call home.

The passengers, who left with tears and hugs, have responded with their own acts of generosity. Lewisporte, a seaside town where 4,000 people made room for 773 unexpected guests, received new lighting for the Anglican church and a scholarship fund worth $19,000 "and still growing," said the mayor, Bill Hooper.

More than $51,000 has been donated so far to Gander, a town where no one asked to be paid for their hospitality.

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