Central New York, Community, Government, International

Local Organization Provides Supplies, Emotional Support for Puerto Rico

By Colleen Callander SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) —Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico nearly three weeks ago, but the devastation on the island still remains.  To help provide relief, the Spanish Action League in Syracuse held a donation drive on Sunday, Oct. 8 to collect supplies for the Puerto Ricans.   

“They’re hungry, they don’t have roofs over their heads, but it just makes us work harder,” Elisa Morales, Executive Director of the Spanish Action League, said.

Morales and her team are collecting non-perishable and canned food items, water, toiletries and feminine hygiene products.  They will ship these items in care packages, and each will be accompanied by a “love note” written by volunteers from Sunday’s event.

The Spanish Action League is also providing supplies and donations to Puerto Ricans here in Central New York who have come to find refuge.  The language barrier makes it hard for them to navigate government processes, such as school registration, Morales said.

“These are beautiful people, they’re American citizens, and they need help,” Morales said.

Morales praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his quick response to the disaster and his cooperation with the Spanish Action League.  He will work with the organization to ship the packages from Syracuse to Puerto Rico.  Monetary donations that Morales and her team collected will go towards transporting and distributing the supplies.

“It’s an ongoing effort. We’re committed and we will continue to collect items and donations,” Morales said.

The Spanish Action League has received support from Walmart and local churches.  After reaching out to contacts down in Puerto Rico, the organization has connected with local leaders and doctors on the island in order to meet more specific needs.

“It’s going to take a few weeks, but we’re going to keep working to provide the best help,” Jesus Rolon, Executive Assistant of the Spanish Action League, said.

The care packages are expected to ship out later this week, but donations are still encouraged.    

Basic necessities such as food and hygiene products are scarce in Puerto Rico, where local stores remain closed. (c) 2017 Colleen Callander