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Maria Menounos: Extra's Fearless Hurricane Sandy Relief Hero

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MARIA MENOUNOS -- EXTRA's fearless Hurricane Sandy reporter, on site at the 90-story high crane collapse on West 57th Street in midtown Manhattan.

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View of the fallen crane collapse from a neighboring apartment building.

Hello Huffington Post make-up readers!

Thirteen years ago I received a call from my dear friend Bill Cabral, (now talent booker for Live! With Kelly & Michael) asking if I could do him a favor and run over to the Hilton Hotel on 6th Avenue in NYC to do makeup for a very special "on the rise" news girl named Maria Menounos. He said, "I'll owe you one Nicole, just please be there at 5 a.m." "Who? Maria who? Never heard of her. Grrrrr 5 a.m.? That means I have to wake up at 4 a.m. and for who? Ahhhhh. OK, but you definitely WILL owe me for this," I replied begrudgingly. As agreed, the next morning at the ungodly hour of 5 a.m., I knocked on the "news girls'" door. At first sight, I immediately perked up when this stunningly gorgeous, hot as heck, bright-eyed, upbeat, sweetheart greeted me with a huge smile from ear to ear. Wow. Indeed she does have something actually special about her I thought to myself. She radiated a rare quality of "it girl" which you don't often run into on a daily basis. As I set up my makeup she began explaining to me all she had been up to in the past weeks and what her future plans were with great enthusiasm. Wow again, I thought to myself, and she has a spectacular brain too, there's something mega here, I can feel it! Well Bill Cabral, I believe a great big THANK YOU is in order! Because of your one little call to me that fine day, my work and friendship with this thunderbolt of a gal named Maria Menounos has been a transformative life long enhancement. Not only have I been inspired time and again by the humanitarian soul that Maria is and have enjoyed the countless makeup looks she's allowed me to create on that beautiful face of hers, she's also grown into the sister I never had, a loyal friend who I respect and genuinely trust and a pillar of strength that carries me onward through even the toughest of times. This kind of bond arrives only a few times in a lifetime and it is with great pleasure to share today my Hurricane Sandy acknowledgement featuring this spectacular and always hardworking, unbeatable dynamo named Maria Menounos!

Much love, NB! Xo

Follow me on Facebook for all Nicole Bryl, Make-Up New York photos.

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Maria Menounos & Nicole Bryl, Make-Up New York through the years.

HURRICANE SANDY INTERVIEW WITH EXTRA HOST MARIA MENOUNOS, A
NY TIMES BEST SELLING AUTHOR OF THE EVERYGIRL'S GUIDE TO LIFE AND FOUNDER OF AFTERBUZZTV

INTERVIEW BY: NICOLE BRYL, MAKE-UP NEW YORK

NB: MARIA, WHEN EVERYONE ELSE TOOK SHELTER, WHAT DROVE YOU INTO THE EYE OF HURRICANE SANDY DURING ITS PEAK "HIT" HOURS ON NYC?

MM: Be it entertainment or hard news, I love reporting, and my hard news work at Channel One, Today Show and Nightly News are some of my most cherished memories. I also knew from covering stories in the past that it's the best way to raise awareness and get people the help they need. I was always disappointed I couldn't get to Ground Zero or Hurricane Katrina to help. I just couldn't sit by and do nothing this time. Luckily my boss, Lisa Gregorisch, is as passionate as I am and let me go cover it. Together, with the rest of our amazing team at Extra, we later raised awareness and brought on numerous sponsors to provide relief for victims in dire need.

NB: AS A REPORTER IN DANGEROUS SITUATIONS, AT WHAT POINT WILL YOU NOT KEEP GOING? DO YOU HAVE A LIMIT? WAS THERE ONE MOMENT DURING THE STORM WHEN YOU ACTUALLY FEARED FOR YOUR SAFETY?
MM: My parents and boyfriend hate this about me but I don't know if I have a limit. If I do, it's pretty extreme. When my adrenaline is flowing and I'm in the heart of it, I want so bad to press on. I will say however, I'm very careful and mindful that I can't get myself into situations where now I'M the one who needs help. I remember vividly after the storm had stopped I was wading in water up to my knees trying to reach Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel to get his take on the storm and I realized the river and the streets were one and it just wasn't worth it in that moment to push forward. I knew it wasn't important to the story so I went back in the morning with my crew when it was safer.

NB: WAS THERE ONE SCENARIO IN PARTICULAR THAT YOU SAW WHICH PULLED AT YOUR HEART STRINGS THE MOST?
MM: There were so many. Watching NYPD officers walking the streets of Staten Island at night, almost dazed at the destruction. Hearing the tragic stories and seeing houses, memories and lives completely destroyed. There was a note left on the remains of one house that read "Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is everything" -- that was a rough one.

NB: WHAT CALL TO ACTION HAVE YOU CHOSEN PERSONALLY TO HELP THE VICTIMS OF HURRICANE SANDY? HAVE YOU PARTNERED WITH ANY FRIENDS OR BRANDS WHO WILL ALSO CONTRIBUTE?
MM: Extra decided to put together a relief plan for the victims of Sandy. I am so happy to be part of a show that cares about giving back. Having been to some of these affected areas, and spoken to the now homeless residents, it was so important to me to utilize all of my resources and give back. I started with one of my partners and friends at Rickland Orchards who donated thousands of yogurt bars. They connected me with COSTCO and other product suppliers like KELLOG'S and PEPSICO, bringing in thousands of Kirkland Signature Water bottles, thousands of Gatorades, over 14,000 Chewy Bars, over 8,000 Nutrigrain Bars and over 8,000 Pop Tarts. Their partners at Simply Freight Solutions drove half way across the country for free to distribute all of these supplies to us. I put in a call to my friends at Morgans Hotel Group and they generously donated 50 hotel rooms for people who are now homeless to stay at through the holidays. My friend Andrew of Jerry Leigh Clothing, is donating thousands of clothes and several of my other friends such as Burlington Coat Factory, Dunkin Donuts, Hat Attack, Crocs, Johnson & Johnson and Akamai pulled out all the stops to help too. Extra brought in mega supplies from CVS, Dove, Modell's Apparel, Pampers, Duracell, Tupperware Brands, Simply Saline, ZICO Pure Coconut Water, Donald Trump's Trump Ice Natural Spring Water, KIND Bars and Planters. Also, very important Extra gathered working phones from Spare One! I am fortunate to have many great relationships with brands and they all came through during this tough time. I am so thankful to all of them, and want to make sure I mention them all!

NB: HOW DID YOU GET THESE SUPPLIES DISTRIBUTED TO THE VICTIMS OF HURRICANE SANDY?
MM: We worked with the Salvation Army to distribute supplies in Highland Park, Long Island and The Rockaways in Queens. Our cast and crew based in New York went into these neighborhoods and hand delivered every item. Families where crying in their arms as they hugged and it's just inspired us and so many others to do more.

NB: WOULD YOU SAY THIS IS YOUR "TRUE CALLING" IN LIFE, TO HELP PEOPLE?
MM: I don't know. I think it's why we are all here at the end of the day - to help one another. It's a beautiful thing to see people come together in times of adversity.

NB: YOU HAVE ACHIEVED SO MANY HIGH RANKING ACCOMPLIMENTS IN YOUR CAREER AND YOU EXCEL AT EVERYTHING YOU SET YOUR MIND TO, WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR THE FUTURE?
MM: I mainly want health for my loved ones and for myself. It's really what's most important. Business-wise, my boyfriend Keven Undergaro and I launched an online broadcast network called afterBuzzTV. AfterBuzzTV produces post-game, wrap-up 'after-shows' for various TV series: everything from Homeland to Walking Dead to Monday Night Raw to all The Real Housewives incarnations. It's sort of like a book club for TV shows. We have over 150 shows and 200 hosts on our roster and play to a weekly audience of 16 million people in over 75 countries. I want the network to keep growing at the amazing rate it has been, making an even greater mark in our community of television makers and fans. I'm so happy it's become a platform that nurtures and grows the careers of so many talented people and Hosts'. There are some 200-plus on the network now! I'm excited for it to continue to entertain and connect people and to stand as an inspiration for more innovative and alternative ways of thinking as our industry and society adapts in the new media world. TV fans can check us out at www.afterbuzztv.com or find us on iTunes, YOUTUBE or Twitter.

NB: MY FINAL QUESTION IS BEAUTY RELATED: WHEN FIGHTING SUCH EXTREME ELEMENTS ARE THERE ANY BEAUTY REGIMENS WHICH YOU ADHERE TO SO YOU DON'T BEGIN TO LOOK "WEATHERED" YOURSELF?
MM: Less is more when it comes to makeup. The last thing I want to worry about in the middle of a crisis is my makeup. Waterproof mascara always helps! I stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. Hot water throughout the day is my big trick! A cup of hot water during the day serves you so well. It's de-stressing, detoxifying, aids digestion and will keep you hydrated. I literally outlined almost everything I know and have come to learn from the countless experts and artists I've worked with over the last decade in my book, The EveryGirls Guide to Life.
For everything Maria Menounos, follow her on Twitter!

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The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore and EXTRA Host Maria Menounos brave the storm together at the Battery Park Promenade in Lower Manhattan.

EXTRA gives back, helping Victims of Hurricane Sandy: WATCH HERE
Maria Menounos on the Frontlines of Hurricane Sandy: PHOTO GALLERY

Maria Menounos' Super Storm Sandy Video Diary: CLICK HERE

GENEROSITY IS CONTAGIOUS...
3 MORE EXTRAORDINARY WOMAN WHO ARRIVED ON THE SCENE WHEN MOST WOULDN'T AND FIERCELY BECAME NYC HURRICANE SANDY RELIEF HEROES

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The truth is, world-renowned style and beauty expert and TV personality, Mary Alice Stephenson has helped make a difference in the lives of so many in need for years now. It hasn't taken a reason like Sandy for her to GLAM4GOOD as she calls it. Simply put, it's in her DNA. I have been more than honored to stand by her side on numerous occasions and donate days of makeup to her as she's used style to save lives. Whether granting fashion wishes as the national fashion ambassador for MAKE A WISH , hosting style seminars for inner city kids for GET REEL WITH YOUR DREAMS, styling veterans and their caregivers for THE BOB WOODRUFF FOUNDATION, or creating fashion events that raise funds and awareness for homeless women and children for GRACE CENTERS OF HOPE; I have witnessed first-hand how Mary Alice uses her passion for her career in fashion and beauty to help heal so many, with her GLAM4GOOD. She puts the word 'soul' in style, so, it was with no surprise to me that the very day after the storm had hit Mary Alice vehemently reached out to her friends and colleagues via Facebook to aid friend and firefighter Eugene Brennan and his community in Far Rockaway and Breezy Point, Queens. When the word got out GLAM4GOOD was helping the Sandy victims, generous brands, friends and fans that adore Mary Alice Stephenson rallied together, volunteered their time and in just 24 hours she and her team where able to deliver warm jackets, socks, hats, gloves, food and essential supplies directly to these areas that were destitute. Just to name a few, brands such as Calvin Klein sent her boxes of warm coats, boots, underwear, scarves and socks. L'Oreal sent over much needed hygienic basics such as kids shampoo's and soap. Magazines like Seventeen, Details and InStyle cleaned out their fashion closets donating loads of cloths to GLAM4GOOD. CWONDER accommodated with delivering children's clothing along with basic fundamentals like flashlights, batteries, tampons and candles. Mary Alice Stephenson and her team spent many days in over looked public housing area's delivering items and guiding people on what they might need. GLAM4GOOD is continuing their Sandy Relief efforts by planning holiday 2012 pop up giveaways in early December with clothing, beauty and home products that have been sent over. Mary Alice stated:

We have had so many incredible people and brands donate such beautiful things and I want to make sure that GLAM4GOOD delivers these items directly into the hands of the families that lost everything when they are able to receive them. We will fill their closets with beautiful things to wear to school, special occasions or work so they don't have to worry about spending money on a new wardrobe. The pop ups will be set up like boutiques allowing people to come in and shop for free, while clean items hang nicely and volunteer's help them find what they need.

To be a part of the Mary Alice Stephenson's year round GLAM4GOOD movement:
Follow her on Facebook & Twitter!

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Mary Alice Stephenson (Center Right) and actor, Sean Ringgold (Center Left) GLAM4GOOD at Edgemere Public Housing in Far Rockaway.

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Haunting images such as this is what drove GLAM4GOOD into the Rockaways at a time when help was scarce.

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This little guy who had lost all of his belongings in the Hurricane was pretty happy after GLAM4GOOD gave him this donated whale soap!

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GLAM4GOOD began receiving donations in the droves from major brands such as L'Oreal!

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Another of my favorite organizations (which I personally lent a hand to during their first days of the Sandy relief efforts as well as many of their Event Days over the years) is Beauty Cares, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to educating young women about the early signs of intimate partner/domestic abuse. A NYC based organization, Beauty Cares immediately jumped in as an early responder to help Staten Island victims who were displaced by the storm, homeless and without much assistance. Beauty Cares promptly marshaled volunteers and donations, dove in and delivered massive quantities of very needed materials such as infant supplies, cleaning supplies, clean blankets and food along with many kind words of support and hugs! Beauty Cares president and Founder, dear friend and former international model Aryn Quinn has stated that Beauty Cares will be back on Staten Island during the holiday's to host a Wellness Event for the continued well being of those displaced by Hurricane Sandy helping them on their road to recovery.

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President and founder Aryn Quinn (center) dropping off supplies to the Stephen Siller Foundation on Hylan Blvd. in Staten Island; they distribute to survivors all day and night. You should have seen their faces when we opened the van and they saw all the donated supplies!

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Upon arriving in Staten Island, Beauty Cares President and Founder Aryn Quinn (right) hands over new blankets to this couple who were in the street at night warming up by a fire. They were in calm spirits even though their car and home had been destroyed.

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Beauty Cares President and Founder Aryn Quinn (Left) and Nicole Bryl, Make-Up New York (Right) in disbelief when they saw that this boat had gone through someone's house landing on top of their car and onto their front fence.

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A pensive moment for Nicole Bryl, Make-Up New York standing in front of someone's shredded home.

For all updates follow Beauty Cares on Facebook and Twitter!

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And finally who could overlook Rockaways Beach 119th Street Angels who raised over $60K in Home Depot gift certificates/donations in only 10 days. They purchased/delivered generators, heaters, grills, wood, and other supplies daily. Delivered over $500.00 of gas daily (for generators) to families on Rockaways Beach 119th St. Received Boston Market gift certificates for Thanksgiving 2012 dinners for 400 people and are going to deliver those meals personally the day before Thanksgiving!
People magazine is running a story on these Angels. Billboard magazine already ran a story about their efforts. Rhodes College also ran a story online. PEPSI has donated a semi-truck load of product (Gatorade and Propel Water). CLOROX has donated a semi-truck of product (Bleach and Green Works cleaning supplies). These Angels have spearheaded this effort completely through social media. Photos of their efforts have been documented on founder and creator of this endeavor Marcie Allen Van Mol's Facebook Page, shot by photographer Jon Heller who works with legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz. Marcie Allen Van Mol (honored as one of Billboard magazine's Woman in Music) thought it important for this story to be told because so many people have pulled together in the Rockaways to help their friends and neighbors. She lives in Brooklyn but has a friend who lives on Beach 119th St. and heard he needed food and water and that's how it all began for her. Almost two weeks after the disaster and these people still don't not have power and heat. The needs of these people are far from being over and these angels will be there till the very end!

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Second day in the Rockaways, Catherine (Center) 90 years-old was so excited to get a hot cup of tea! Marcie Allen Van Mol (right) brought her unconditional good cheer and positive spirit!

Follow Marcie Allen and her team on Facebook!