By Emily Goodin - 09/11/13 09:19 PM EDT
President Obama and Michelle Obama did separate service projects on Wednesday to mark the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Obama stopped by the headquarters of Food & Friends, which provides meals to people with serious illnesses, while the first lady joined actor Gary Sinise to visit military families at Fort Belvoir.
Obama said the projects were done out of remembrance of all the help given by people on the day of the attacks.
"Every 9/11, obviously, we remember those we lost. We also remember the incredible outpouring of neighbors helping neighbors," he said during his visit to the food center. "I want to make sure we encourage everyone out there to volunteer in their own communities," he added.
The president helped pack meals for about 500 people, which will be delivered on Friday. He donned a black Food & Friend apron and black baseball cap for the event, according to a White House pool report.
He helped fill brown-paper bags with bananas, oranges, apples, sandwiches, fruit cups, and Garden salsa Sun Chips.
The first lady had a few food gifts of her own for the children she met with during her visit: cookies in the shape of Sunny, the new Obama family dog.
She and Sinise, who portrayed Lt. Dan in "Forrest Gump," visited the USO Warrior and Family Center, the largest center in USO history. Sinise is known for his work with veterans through his Gary Sinise Foundation. His band, the Lt. Dan Band, will give a free performance at the fort on Wednesday evening.
During the stop, the two helped children with their arts and crafts projects.
Obama, Sinise, and the children traced paper images of their hands, cut them out and put them on a banner with the words "Always by Their Side."
"We just wanted to shine a light on all of the great work that the USO is doing for military families all over this country," Obama said during the visit.
The first lady later visited the Intrepid Spirit One care center for wounded warriors.
Earlier in the day, the Obamas and the Bidens stood for a moment of silence on the White House lawn to mark the anniversary of the attacks.
This evening, the Bidens will host a barbecue for wounded warriors and their families at the Naval Observatory.
— Justin Sink contributed