Published on September 8, 2005 by Mary Wimberley  

Samford University students and faculty are responding with time, energy and resources to various Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. In the words of Minister to the University Jim Barnette, this is an opportunity for the Samford community to be "agents of relief and of grace."

Students, alumni and anyone else wishing to contribute money under the Samford umbrella may make donations to the American Red Cross. The gifts will be matched, up to a total of $250,000, by Compass Bank. Checks should be made payable to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, with Samford University Hurricane Relief Donation written in the "for" line.

Checks may be hand delivered or mailed to the Office of Student Involvement, Box 292264, Samford University, Birmingham, AL 35229. The office is located in Room 116, Beeson University Center. Donations may be made at any Birmingham area Compass Bank location, but the on-campus collection site is preferred.

Individuals or groups who want to engage in fund-raising efforts should contact Frank Parsons.

Volunteers who can give time and energy during fall break in late October attended a planning meeting Thursday, Sept. 8.

April Robinson, director of student ministries, expects to have about 15 groups of 20 students, plus a faculty or staff leader for each group, scattered along the stricken gulf coast. Already, fall break work sites are planned for Bayou La Batre, Ala., Slidell and Baton Rouge in Louisiana, and the Mississippi towns of Gulfport, Pascagoula, Bay St. Louis and Ocean Springs.

The volunteers will be collecting supplies to take with them. Robinson will ask churches to volunteer vans and drivers to transport the students for the four-day effort, Saturday through Tuesday, Oct. 22-25.

Many students and faculty rolled up their sleeves on Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 6 and 7, to participate in an on-campus blood drive held by LifeSouth Community Blood Bank. Samford director of student health services Shauna Yelton reported a good response to the effort, although the number of donors and quantity of blood won't be known for several days.

Many students found ways to help since the devastating hurricane and flooding, such as unloading trucks laden with supplies at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center Complex, which housed evacuees. Other Samford volunteers pitched in to help with child care, and to sit with and simply listen to people.

According to Angulus Wilson, who is coordinating the local volunteer effort, more than 500 students have expressed a desire to help in some way.

Students and faculty at Samford's McWhorter School of Pharmacy responded to the health care needs of evacuees in Birmingham shelters and special needs clinics.

Pharmacy faculty assisted with coordinating primary care services at the special medical needs clinic at the Birmingham Fairgrounds, and led efforts to organize a systematic way to meet prescription drug needs for those housed at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Complex Arena.

A total of 21 pharmacy faculty volunteered to provide 24/7 coverage in the clinics as needed. They were assisted by post-doctoral residents and student pharmacists, led by pharmacy faculty members Dr. Roger Lander and Dr. Michael Hogue.

"These efforts are directly related to the educational program of the school and are in alignment with our formal affiliation with the Jefferson County Health Department," said pharmacy dean Dr. Joseph O. Dean, Jr.

The efforts, he said, are structured to engage Samford pharmacy students in public health pharmacy practice experiences, and provide needed health care to underserved populations being serviced by the local health department clinics.

Dr. Lander was at a Bessemer shelter assisting a steady stream of evacuees, many of whom had run out of medicine and did not have prescriptions.

"We are doing assessments and writing prescriptions," he said, explaining that an official order by the Jefferson County Health chief officer cleared the way for the pharmacists to write prescriptions under these special circumstances.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.