HOUSTON - It’s been a month since Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, and even now, bare necessities are in short supply.
“My father’s area and a lot of my family is still living on generators, so what they did my father moved into my step grandmothers cause her area had power, for the time being,” shares Marcos Genemaras–Cruz. whose family lives in Puerto Rico. He’s a Junior at Alexander-Smith Academy, a private school in Southwest Houston.
Students in the Spanish Club at Alexander-Smith, inspired by the generosity they’d seen during the response to Hurricane Harvey in Houston, decided to start collecting items to help.
“We want to do everything we can to help out, especially since we have a friend here who has family in Puerto Rico and we just felt like it was the right thing to do,” shared Larkin Thomas, President of the Spanish Club.
“We asked him if we could send the items directly to his family, but he chose for us to send it to people who need it more,” says Lauren Vargas, a teacher at the school.
“My family had it, I would say a bit less worse than most people on the island, compared to the way some people on the island lost their homes, or even lost their lives,” explains Genemaras-Cruz.
From here, the items collected at Alexander-Smith will make their way to Texans United for Puerto Rico, a group that has been gathering, storing, and transporting aid items from all over Texas, and getting them to the boots on the ground in Puerto Rico.
“We have sent to Puerto Rico already $1.2 million of medication, correction and prevention…we were sponsored by the city of Houston by the Mayor, Sylvester Turner, and through him we were able to get a plane 55,000 lbs. to Puerto Rico…. Of first necessity items such as food baby food baby formula medical supplies medical equipment,” explains Javier Ferrer, Founder of Texans United for Puerto Rico.
Texans United for Puerto Rico will also be hosting the annual Puerto Rican and Cuban Festival, November 12th, with all proceeds going towards the relief effort.
What they really need now is a cargo plane for the incoming donations. That’s a big ask, but if you don’t have a spare jet lying around, you can always donate to their Go Fund Me.
Alexander-Smith continues to accept donations too.
“We need any items such as diapers, formula, canned goods, band aids, blankets, sheets, towels. We’d like everything to be in new condition so that we can get those people the items that they deserve,” says Professor Vargas. They'll be accepting donations through October 27.
A city coming together to support Puerto Rico, in the same ‘Houston Strong’ spirit we’ve all come to know and love.