Helping Puerto Rico and Mexico from Long Island

Local residents bring donations to the Flanders Northampton Volunteer Ambulance, one of several locations on Long Island which has served as a collection site. (Photo by Alicia Saldierna via RiverheadLOCAL)

Following the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and an earthquake in southern Mexico last week, Long Island residents have banded together to organize efforts to collect and send aid. In two stories for RiverheadLOCAL, Maria Piedrabuena covers relief efforts started by locals with roots in the regions hit by the natural disasters.

Jessica Ruiz, a Puerto Rican native living in Riverhead, started the Facebook group “Boricuas en Long Island” (Puerto Ricans on Long Island) and along with other women in the group, she is organizing sites for people to send donations.

Another Puerto Rican, Ana Maria Caraballo, who serves as the program director at the radio station La Fiesta 98.5, along with Margarita Espada, director of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Day Parade and Teatro Yerbabruja, helped spread the cause. Caraballo tells Piedrabuena:

…it was “amazing” to see legislators, Stony Brook University professors, non-profit organizations and local residents from all nationalities come together to help.

“What started as a conversation between two desperate women has grown into a whole movement and now the community is coming together to help,” she said.

Go to the full story for the “horrible wait” Caraballo has endured in seeking updates on her family members, and how Puerto Ricans abroad have kept up with the latest news amid a lack of communication on much of the island in the wake of the Sept. 20 hurricane.

Piedrabuena also reports on “Voluntariado Mexicano de Long Island” (Mexican Volunteers of Long Island), a group created by residents and businesses in the aftermath of the earthquake that hit parts of central and southern Mexico on Sept. 19.

“We are very sad to see so much pain and damage in Mexico. There are so many deaths and people affected in one way or another. Mexico needs us,” said Paola Zuniga-Tellez, FRNCA board member and Flanders resident.

Led by a group of local women who have been rallying help throughout Long Island, the group is committed to not only collect donations at different collection sites set up across Suffolk County, but also to transport those items directly to Mexico’s areas they think need the most help.

Organizer and community leader Alicia Saldierna said that the group wants to“make sure that everything we collect gets delivered” as rural areas and small towns sometimes “don’t get as much as they should.”

Saldierna explained that “Liga de Justicia,” a Long Island law firm, will provide vehicles that will help transport donations from all collection sites through Suffolk County, including Riverhead and Flanders, to a warehouse courtesy of Smithtown Nissan. Saldierna said that currently “Voluntariado Mexicano of Long Island” organizers are trying to find the best way to take those donations from Long Island directly to the people affected in Mexico and are in talks with representatives from several airlines.

A Mexican restaurant owner, who has offered his businesses as sites for collecting donations, explains why he’s helping, in the full story.

Both articles also include more information on where to make donations.

One Comment

  1. Consuelo Hernandez says:

    Los felicito por tan noble causa., reciban much as bendiciones. Perdonenme el atrevimiento x lo q lesvoy a pedir, hay una senora en Puerto Rico con su hija pequena De 8 Anos, he tratado x todos los medios De conseguirles vivienda . Si hay alguien caritativo dpnde Ella pueda llegar mientras encuentra donde irse. End cuanto Ella llegue le tengo trabajo, Por favor

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