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Ole Miss alumni offer help after hurricane

During the holiday season, Ole Miss graduates in the Northeast seek to help communities two weeks after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area.

Ole Miss alumni in the northeastern United States have continued to extend hope to their surrounding communities two weeks after the devastation from Hurricane Sandy.
A couple Ole Miss graduates currently live in the Northeast and experienced the effects of Hurricane Sandy firsthand but wanted to help others.

Gail Sims, business manager of clinical affairs at New York University Medical Center in New York City, received her master’s degree in business administration from Ole Miss in 2010. She lives in Chelsea, a neighborhood of lower Manhattan, and had no electricity or running water for six days.

“I had to walk up 40 blocks or so where I had electricity, could get some food, charge my cell phone, shower and kind of enter civilization again,” Sims said.
Sims currently cannot work because the backup generator at NYU Medical Center failed during the storm, and the hospital evacuated 300 patients.

She has volunteered for the medical center by caring for its patients who were relocated to other hospitals and by helping doctors return to their work.
Sims said she is very grateful that NYU Medical Center has continued to pay its employees.

“We are not being able to function, but they’re still making the financial sacrifice to help people during the holidays,” she said.
 Sims said the whole city is optimistic as the holidays approach.

“The New York City culture, in general, is kind of like, ‘Let’s pull together. We can get through anything,’ so it’s very positive,” she said.

In another area of the Northeast, another alumnus is also participating in relief efforts. Thomas McKee, programming coordinator for ESPNU in Bristol, Conn., received a degree in marketing communications in 2010.
Although he lives inland and did not suffer from the storm’s damage, he traveled with friends to Union Beach, N.J., to work with the Salvation Army.

They unloaded trucks with cleaning supplies, clothes and other basic needs for distribution.

“The town has a population of 6,000 or so, and there were actually 1,000 people there last Saturday volunteering, which was pretty cool to see,” he said.
McKee said the Salvation Army had a stack of index cards with names of people who needed aid.

“We got a guy’s card and gave him a call, and he said he needed help,” McKee said. “Everything in his house had to go. It was all ruined so we spent the whole afternoon just clearing out his entire house.”
McKee said he also sensed a positive attitude from the Union Beach community.

“You could tell that people were frustrated, but, at the same time, they were very grateful,” he said. “It was pretty cool to see everyone kind of pull together. It’s kind of happening all over the East Coast.”
As relief efforts continue in the Northeast, Ole Miss alumni have been beacons of light as people enter the holiday season.