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President Bush Calls on Americans to Increase Volunteer Service

President Bush is urging all Americans to combat evil by helping others. During a trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Mr. Bush pushed his campaign for volunteer service.

This is a week when attention in the United States is focusing on the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Monday, six months after terrorists struck New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, President Bush led a formal ceremony on the White House lawn. The next morning he was in a far different setting, a Philadelphia shelter for homeless women and children run by volunteers.

After the visit, the president took part in a meeting on the merits of community service. He said because of the terrorist attacks, Americans are placing more emphasis on family, friends and community.

He said they are showing the strength of the nation is more than a measure of military might. He said America's other source of strength is the compassion of its people.

"I believe out of this evil will come incredible good. And one of the good things that will happen is Americans will ask the question: 'how can I fight evil by doing good?' That is how I think we ought to do it. I think we ought to say that if you are interested in fighting evil, love a neighbor. If you are interested in doing something for your country, help somebody in need," Mr. Bush said.

The president said interest in volunteer programs has soared since the terrorist attacks. He said the number of applicants to programs administered by the government has grown.

The Peace Corps, for example, has received 18,000 requests for applications in the past six weeks alone. That is a 54 percent increase over the same period last year.

One of the Philadelphia volunteers who met with the president once served with the Peace Corps in Nepal. Elaine Lander is a nurse who spends her spare time working with the American Red Cross. "For a lot of people the world is a terribly big place. But for those of us who have served in the Peace Corps it is a large planet made up of communities," Ms. Lander said.

During his State of the Union Address to Congress in late January, President Bush announced plans to double the Peace Corps in five years. He told Ms. Lander that he wants to see many of those new volunteers go to Muslim countries.

"Our goal, as well, is to make sure we have the Peace Corps go to nations, particularly Muslim nations, that do not understand America. They do not understand our heart. They do not understand our compassion. They do not understand that we share the same values," Mr. Bush said.

President Bush has been pushing for laws that would encourage volunteerism by increasing government support for programs run by religious groups. That legislation has proven controversial because the Constitution, in guaranteeing freedom of religion, calls for the separation of church and state.