Hurricane Maria fundraising storms into Staples

By Nicky Brown ’19 and Layla Wofsy ’19

Just a month ago, students could be seen soaking up the sun and enjoying the warm sand on the island of Puerto Rico. One month later, the island is destroyed. Just a four hour flight away, Hurricane Maria caused severe damage to the popular vacation destination.

After both Harvey and Irma hit the United States, President Trump and the national government acted promptly to provide Texas and Florida with the aid needed to ensure that schools and business would be up and running quickly. However, three weeks after Maria hit Puerto Rico, schools have yet to reopen and many homes are still out of power.

After hearing about what has been going on in Puerto Rico, many members of the Staples faculty and student body have come together to raise funds to help support the recovery process.

Starting on Tuesday, Oct. 16, there will be several fundraising events, including a sticker sale, a “penny wars” competition and a bake sale. All of the money collected will be donated to AmeriCares, which according to their website, “is a nonprofit disaster relief and global health organization providing immediate response to emergency medical needs and supporting long-term health care initiatives for people in the United States and around the world.”

According to AIR Worldwide, a catastrophe modeling firm, “The storm caused an estimated $40 billion to $85 billion in insured losses in the Caribbean (about 85 percent of that in Puerto Rico).” Now, thousands of families and Puerto Rican citizens are left without power and basic resources like clean drinking water or food.

While teaching Latin American studies, Daniel Heaphy realized he wanted to help. “Regardless of what [one] may think of domestic politics, everyone should be in favor of the relief efforts and helping out [with Puerto Rico],” Heaphy said. He continued to describe the storm coverage on the media as “painful looking” and the photos were “tough to look at.”

Working alongside Heaphy, Alyssa Hyman ‘18, president of Student Assembly, mentioned that the group’s primary goal is to “bring members of the school together to help Puerto Rico, as it is a US territory that has not received much assistance since it was struck by the hurricane.” They hope to bring more recognition to the island that is striving to not only gain power back, but to access clean drinking water as well.

Although Puerto Rico may seem like a world away, many members of the Staples community have close connections to people living there.

Shirley Angos ’21 is half Puerto Rican and has family members living on the island. “I decided to be involved with the fundraiser because I know that my mom would be happy and I would love to do something that helps my people,” Agnos said.

Maryann Garcia, office secretary, also has family members living in Puerto Rico. “My husband’s step sister lives on the east side of the island with her husband. They own a computer business, and the roof caved in and they lost their entire business,” she said. “The aid that everyone is raising money for is not really getting to the people … so I made a collection of food and shipped it over there.”

Packages are not currently being shipping to residences in Puerto Rico, however, PO boxes or businesses can receive packages. Luckily, for Garcia, she was able to send food to her family through their business.

Whether it be donating loose change found around the house or buying a cookie at the bake sale, anything can help raise money for the relief efforts that are being sent to Puerto Rico.