By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
In one corner of a warm gymnasium at Concord University on Tuesday night was a simple reminder of a harsh reality half a world away in the nation of the Philippines.
During Concord’s volleyball tournament match at the Carter Center in Athens, a large box, covered in Christmas wrapping paper, was filled to overflowing with clothes and shoes to be donated to victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
Before the evening was over, another sizable cardboard box and a large trash bag, both filled with more donations, took their place beside the box.
The idea for the clothing drive took form after the CU volleyball team learned that one of their teammates, Nikki McMillan, had lost at least two cousins during the devastating superstorm earlier this month.
“I had a couple of cousins pass away, and there are still some missing,” McMillan said Tuesday night. “It was really upsetting. I talked to one of my cousins, and she said this is typhoon season, but they’ve never had one this bad.”
McMillan said her mother was born in the Philippines and lived there for 27 years. She met her husband, a U.S. Marine, on the island of Okinawa. They moved to the United States, and McMillan grew up in the northern Virginia city of Manassas.
“We still have a lot of family over there,” McMillan said about the island nation on the rim of the western Pacific Ocean.
Concord volleyball head coach Kate Southcott said, “Nikki’s family contacted me, just to see how she was.”
When word spread to the rest of the team, Southcott recalled, “They said, maybe there’s something we can do.”
“I know all the reliefs are asking for cash, but these are college kids. They don’t have cash. But everybody’s got a T-shirt or a sweatshirt or a hoodie or something that’s been inside your closet for the entire 16 weeks of the semester and you haven’t touched it yet. So, get rid of it.”
McMillan said, “I told (my teammates on) Friday, to start getting the word out. It was such a short time period. That’s why I didn’t think ... that box was going to be filled. But it was really great.”
The clothing drive was promoted on Concord’s athletics website, through social media and through announcements at Saturday’s Concord-Shepherd football game in Athens.
On Tuesday night, McMillan said, “I saw that the box was full, and that was just amazing. I didn’t think that many people were going to donate.”
“It means a lot. I really appreciate it from the bottom of my heart that so many people came out and donated.”
She said Southcott had been her high school coach and her club coach in northern Virginia. “She had coached both of my older sisters, and one ... was the graduate assistant here the year before I came,” McMillan said. “Me and Southcott just have a lot of history.”
Southcott said that couple of steps remain to be done — at the same time that the Concord team is preparing to travel to Wheeling for the next round of the Mountain East Conference tournament.
“I’m probably going to be washing all that, and re-folding it, and getting it shippable,” she said about the contents of the boxes and bags. “I’m not sure that it’ll all get there. I’m hoping, but it’ll depend on the cost.”
“We do have a specific family we’re sending it to out there,” she said. “It’s going straight to Nikki’s mom’s brother, to their family.”
— Contact Tom Bone at