Harbison Canyon, CA
9/11 Anniversary 2003
November 5-10, 2003
“3300 homes were destroyed and 3300 families just lost everything. And while this effort might make just a small dent in helping some people to replace the ‘things’ they lost, I think we as New Yorkers have a greater message to send post 9/11, which is simply “Thank You.” Thanks for all the help you gave us, all your support, all your love. Here is a little of that back.” – Jeff Parness, Founder of The New York Says Thank You Foundation
The burning of San Diego County in 2003 led to the founding of The New York Says Thank You Foundation—created in an instant in response to 5-year-old Evan Parness wanting to send some of his old toys to a family shelter he saw on CNN – people who had lost everything in the recent wildfires.
Jeff Parness along with Stavros Michailidis and Marius Calin, and with help from Kevin Potente, drove cross-country to deliver clothes, children’s toys, and other relief items to the fire victims in Southern California being aided by Father Joe’s Villages/St. Vincent de Paul in San Diego. A large banner on the truck read ‘New York Says Thank You’ as a way to promote the journey and its meaning and to gain additional donations. People nationwide- from West Virginia to Oklahoma to Arizona—came through, donating whatever they could to the truck.
Over 500 New Yorkers and Americans from all across the country participated in these initial efforts. With the help of the Lions Club, the Rodeph Sholom School in New York City, and JetBlue Airways, The New York Says Thank You Foundation outfitted a recreation room for the 300 children of Harbison Canyon, CA, a rural community east of San Diego in which 287 of 388 homes burned to the ground in the October 2003 wildfires.