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PCC Nursing Students Collect, Deliver Items to Hurricane Sandy Victims in New Jersey

PCC nursing students Jenna Camp, Cierra Carmon and Erin Markowski, left to right, sort through and prioritize items collected for Hurricane Sandy victims in New Jersey.

WINTERVILLE—When Pitt Community College nursing student Erin Markowski visited her sister in Seaside, N.J., shortly after Hurricane Sandy’s departure, the devastation she witnessed there drove her to find a way to help the people of her home state.

With assistance from fellow PCC student Cacy McKeever and their nursing classmates, Markowski set a goal of collecting perhaps 5-10 boxes of donations to take to the people of New Jersey. Instead, the students collected more than 100 boxes of various toiletries, baby items, food and toys, and dozens of bags of men's and women's clothes, jackets and shoes.

Markowski said the virtual sea of donations in the PCC nursing labs brought tears of joy to her eyes.

“I honestly didn’t expect this much,” she said. “I’m from New Jersey, so it’s really close to me. I didn’t know North Carolinians would care this much.”

Nursing students gathered so many items that Markowski wasn’t completely sure she would be able to transport them all to New Jersey. “I guess that’s what you get when you ask nursing students for help,” Markowski said with a smile.

Students sorted through and prioritized items on Wednesday before loading Markowski’s Ford Explorer and trailer the next morning. Markowski’s plan was to start the eight-hour drive north on Friday afternoon.

Her first distribution stop in The Garden State was scheduled for Saturday morning at Beachy Dreamz, a retail store that moved from the Seaside boardwalk to nearby Toms River after Sandy destroyed the original location.

From there, Markowski was slated to make a stop at the Island Heights Fire Department to provide items to fire fighters and their families. Any remaining items were to be taken to the American Red Cross.

Prior to her trip, Markowski said the people she spoke with in New Jersey about the PCC project were extremely thankful. She credited the college’s nursing faculty for their support and assistance and beamed with pride when talking about the gratitude she felt for her nursing classmates.

“If this [relief effort] is any indication of how they’re going to be on the job, then they’ll be fantastic nurses,” Markowski said.