Hurricane Maria brought fierce destruction to the island of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory home to about 3.4 million people. The island has no power, and the situation there is worsening by the day. Our fellow Americans are at risk of malnutrition, dehydration, disease, and death from the conditions at this point.
The images of the destruction in Puerto Rico are disturbing. The situation is almost apocalyptic. The power grid is down, the generators need gasoline to run, gasoline is scarce, the ATM machines are running out of cash if they even work, and water is scarce. Those effected need to bring in enough water to bathe and also it takes about one gallon of water to flush a toilet which needs to be brought in to apartments in high-rise buildings that could be twenty floors up.
I put myself in their shoes, in that situation, and I have to try to do something besides just sending in some money, which is a good start. However, this is a much larger effort and something has to be done. The federal government has to get some emergency funds allocated since FEMA is so stretched from the other recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida, and that has to be a top priority.
I have seen certain drives for fundraising or for gathering gifts-in-kind (supplies) taking place in New York City, Atlanta, Washington D.C., and other cities. We need more of those types of events from a grassroots level.
I know it can be difficult to determine how to trust that the charity will allocate your money to the actual relief effort in Puerto Rico. I know that the island territory feels isolated and cut off from the world. These people are our sisters and brothers. They are fellow Americans, and we must act to help them.
Here are some charitable organizations that have active operations there:
Convoy of Hope : www.convoyofhope.org
Samaritan’s Purse: www.samaritanspurse.org
Salvation Army: www.salvationarmyusa.org
Food For The Poor: www.foodforthepoor.org
These organizations are highly reliable and transparent. Please donate whatever you can to help in the efforts of relief for what is a dire situation in Puerto Rico.
Some other ways that you, your family, or your community can give:
1. Organize a local fundraiser and send the funds to these charities
2. Collect donations at your workplace, job site, or office these charities will provide written letters of receipt for your donation
3. Start a fundraiser or supply collection (food drive) at your local church or community center or with an organization you may be involved with
4. Contact your local representatives in Congress and ask them what I call the two questions: What are you doing Senator X or Rep. Y to help with aid to Puerto Rico? What can I do to help aid in this effort?
5. Contact your local organizations: Lions Club, Knights of Columbus, Rotary, Elks Club…and find out if they have a fundraiser you can help with.
6. Get your friends from school together or work together on social media and decide on an event you can create and promote locally and then send those proceeds to the relief effort.
7. Pray for the people there and pray for guidance on how to best serve and help them in this time of great need.
In the event that you have relatives, friends, associates, or colleagues in Puerto Rico and you have not heard from them; please call this number: 202-778-0710 and keep trying because it might be busy. This number will allow you to get the latest information and check on the status of your loved ones there on that ravaged island.
In my own life, I have visited Puerto Rico on a cruise during my honeymoon. I have very fond memories of the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan, the Fort (El Morro), and the white sand beaches. Those places are decimated, the people there are living in very dangerous conditions. They could survive the storm and die of malnutrition or starvation. The children on that island are the most vulnerable as are the elderly.
I ask you to put yourself in their shoes, and search your soul. We are all capable of doing something, and the time for action is now. Please help the people of Puerto Rico. Thank you and God bless you and God be with the people of Puerto Rico.