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WASHINGTON, DC,October 17, 2001: In the wake of a national tragedy, thousands of professionals and students united in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi to volunteer in their local communities. On October 6, the weekend anniversary of Gandhi's birth, close to 5,000 volunteers around the country collectively contributed 25,000 hours of community service towards improving their communities. The annual event, now in its third year, is organized by South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow (SAALT), a national nonprofit organization that fosters leadership and civic engagement among South Asian Americans. Jeet Bindra, chairman of SAALT said, "While many Americans were unable to directly help those in need in New York and Washington, DC, we can honor their memory by helping those who need us in our own neighborhoods. Sheltering the homeless, feeding the hungry, comforting the sick, preserving the natural beauty of our country will make us stronger as a nation and defeat the purpose of those who attacked us."