New Jersey Campaign Collects Aid for Venezuelans

Misión Venezuela collecting donations outside the Evangelic Pentecostal Church in Union City, New Jersey. (Photo via Reporte Hispano)

The serious economic crisis plaguing Venezuela – the result of 20 years of statist policies and the squandering of its oil reserves resources – has led the country to the worst crisis in its history and sunken its population into poverty. These circumstances have led the Latin American community in New Jersey to start collecting aid to send to Venezuela.

Daniela Pasco, born in Caracas and a U.S. citizen for 16 years, spoke of the dramatic situation in her country.

“Venezuelans are starving, to the point that they are scavenging for food in the trash to survive,” she said. “Families are also resorting to having only one meal a day to make food last longer. Parents often skip meals to be able to feed their children.”

Mortality and malnutrition rates have also increased. International news agencies have reported that child mortality rates went up 30 percent in 2016, according to official data.

A study carried out by Caritas in 2016 found that, in the parishes of the four largest states in the country – Zulia, Capital District, Vargas and Miranda – 48 percent of children under 5 suffered from malnutrition and 8 percent of them were at risk of dying.

For 12 months, Daniela and her family have been sending their own money to aid Venezuelans. In the hope of tripling her efforts, she recently became involved with the Misión Venezuela 2018 campaign. As she explained this, Daniela was waving a Venezuelan flag to call the attention of cars driving on Broadway and 49th Street in Union City, where the Evangelic Pentecostal Church, which is promoting the initiative, is located.

The campaign was active on May 2, 9 and 16, June 12, 19 and 26, and will end on July 7. The group of volunteers expects to collect enough food and basic goods to fill a container to ship out in late July. They will also be traveling personally to Caracas from Aug. 20 to 31 to deliver the aid.

Daniel Reyes, a volunteer from Puerto Rico, said that the goal is to collect donations to assist 1,000 families.

The container they plan to send can hold 40 cubic feet of cargo, and they hope to fill it with 1,000 ready-to-distribute boxes.

Volunteer Karla Iraheta, from El Salvador, said that Misión Venezuela 2018 is asking donors to donate the following items:

  • Food with a valid expiration date: rice, pasta, beans, oatmeal, flour, sugar, coffee, powdered milk, baby formula and Ensure (PediaSure for children)
  • Personal care items: toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, diapers for adults and babies, feminine pads, razors, shampoo, soap, vitamins for children and adults, anti-diarrhea medication, aspirin, allergy medication, acetaminophen/ibuprofen for children and adults and Pedialyte.
  • On Saturday, June 23, at 362 River Rd., NJ 07603, in the city of Bogota, Bergen County, a soccer match was organized in which each player donated $20 and goods.

Lastly, Misión Venezuela 2018 opened a GoFundMe account in their name with which they expect to collect $15,000. So far, they have $235. The money will help them pay for the shipping. At the moment, the group is making arrangements with customs to ship the humanitarian aid, said volunteer Karla Iraheta.

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