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Queensborough students pitch in with Sandy relief

Members of the Queensborough Community College Haitian Club volunteer in the Rockaways, providing food to residents hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy. Photo courtesy Queensborough Community College
TimesLedger Newspapers

Inside an interfaith outreach relief center at St. Anthony’s Church in Oceanside, L.I., a 6-year-old boy and his mother approached student volunteers from Queensborough Community College looking for a pair of shoes.

After the family lost their entire home in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the boy told the students he never thought his shoes would float away from him. Within minutes, the students scrambled to gather some new footwear for him along with pajamas and other assorted items in two heaping bags.

“It was amazing to watch,” said Dr. Christine Mooney, an assistant professor from the Bayside college’s business department. “I think the students took away an amazing sense of reward. They helped a lot of people.”

On a recent Saturday nearly 20 students and faculty members from the business department took to St. Anthony’s Church in Oceanside, where more than half of the area homes were flooded during the storm. The group sorted through clothing, shoes and more at the relief center to benefit storm victims from Long Island and as far as the Rockaways.

“Our students were devoted to the cause and never stopped working, even when it was time for a break,” said Professor Ted Rosen, faculty adviser for the college’s Mock Trial Team. “By the time we were done, the recreation center’s floor, most of which had been covered with piles of clothing, was cleared.”

Mooney, who also lives in Oceanside, said she was without power for two weeks.

“It was interesting to see the students’ reactions to the devastation so close to home,” Mooney said. “They were taken aback at the extent of how much people have lost.”

Mooney, a member of St. Anthony’s, answered the church’s calls seeking volunteers by working alongside professors and students to assemble a Queensborough volunteer team, she said. It took the group just two days to collect more than 100 cans of food and three large bags of clothing from the college community to donate to the cause.

The outreach efforts did not stop there, either. Last week faculty and student volunteers from the college’s nursing department also helped the Visiting Nurse Service of New York in its recovery efforts when they visited storm victims in Staten Island.

Interim Queensborough Community College President Diane Call said that although the college’s Bayside campus was fortunate enough to escape Sandy with minor damage, many members of the community answered the call to action to aid those in need. After the storm, Call said the college collected coats, cleaning supplies and other items to be donated to relief agencies throughout the borough.

The college gym also acted as an emergency shelter at the height of the storm and served roughly 50 people over several days, Call said.

“At times like these, when calamity strikes on such an enormous scale, it is important to reach out to neighbors and colleagues demonstrating the extraordinary spirit and dedication which characterizes Queensborough,” Call said.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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