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Help Me Help Puerto Rico

If you have been following my blog for awhile, you will know that I lived in Puerto Rico for over two years. I moved back to the mainland in March 2017, but I still have quite a bit of  family and friends on the island. It has been incredibly stressful and heartbreaking for me to watch the island of Puerto Rico, my former home and my boyfriend Pedro’s homeland, get leveled by Hurricane Maria.

Help Me Help Puerto Rico

It has been infuriating to see logistics and politics get in the way of relief
efforts. Communications are still down and I can barely get in touch with friends and family, but when I do talk to them, they tell me that supplies are low. Stores are empty. Banks are closed. The relief items are not making it to smaller towns.

El Yunque National Rainforest (very close to where I lived) – Before & After Hurricane Maria

I want to send supplies directly to families

While there are charities and organizations collecting donations, I want to take a more direct approach. Pedro and I are working with a friend who also has family in Puerto Rico to collect donations for care packages that will be sent to communities throughout the island. This is important because, oftentimes, smaller towns do not get the same amount of attention and help as the metro area. 

We have already begun the process of talking to friends and family to ask them exactly what supplies they and their neighbors need. Each person we send supplies to will also be responsible for families in their neighborhood, which means our supplies will reach far beyond our personal friends and family.

How you can donate to help Puerto Rico

There are a few ways you can donate. If you want to donate cash, you can send it to me via Venmo (@rease-kirchner). I will share photos of receipts for items/shipping costs. 

If you want to donate cash but don’t feel comfortable sending it directly to me, you can also go through the law office I work for. They have been kind enough to set up a donation page here. The money is all going to the same place, but I totally understand if you would rather go through a business.

If you would rather purchase items, you can buy items off this Amazon Wishlist.

You can also buy gifts that help Puerto Rico

A close friend of ours has dedicated her Etsy Shop, Owlr Designs, to Puerto Rico relief help puerto ricoefforts. She has super cute stuff (such as the jewelry/change/key dish shown here) and takes custom orders. Now through October 15th, all proceeds from her shop will go to Puerto Rico relief efforts.

I recently helped Pedro and his brother, Carmelo, launch and Etsy shop, Trade Winds Glass Shop. They were inspired by Owlr Designs, and decided to take profits for all current stock and put them directly towards our care package efforts.

 

Donate to Puerto Rico specific charities

If you would prefer to go through a charity, please donate to organizations that are focused specifically on Puerto Rico, such as Unidos Por Puerto Rico  or the Hispanic Federation.

I also received this list on local efforts from a friend in Puerto Rico:

2. Sustainable Agriculture: https://www.visitrico.org/products/donate

Thank you for all your help!

Updates

I will continue to add photos and updates of donations/items sent here.

Post offices are opening up across the island, but only for package pickup. I have purchased some supplies but will not be sending everything all at once for two reasons:

  1. This will be a long recovery process. People will need help for months. 
  2. Mail delivery is still a work in progress, I don’t want to risk all the supplies being lost, so I am sending test packages.

10/5/17

Donations received  to date: $665.00

Money spent on Supplies to date: $275.25

Other donations received: 12 pack C Batteries, 500 count Ibuprofen, 4 packs of baby wipes, 2 packs of diapers.

 

Padfoot sends his love to Puerto Rico. These are just some of the supplies we purchased – many had already been boxed up for shipment. See receipts for details.

 

We purchased first aid supplies in bulk and made our own first aid kits that included alcohol swabs, Advil, stomach/diarrhea medicine, gloves, Neosporin, and a ton of bandaids.

Stomach medicine not pictured, I had to run to another store for that the morning after we made these.

Receipts:

 

10/6/17

Donations received  to date: $665.00

Money spent on Supplies to date: $316.05

Two test packages mailed to Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. A friend of mine in that area has been helping neighbors since the hurricane. One of her neighbors has a baby who is short on diapers and formula, so I wanted to get those items to her right away. I included other items such as children’s medicine, stomach medicine, ibuprofen, granola bars, baby wipes, first aid supplies, and Brita filters. She is in an area that occasionally has water, so when it comes on, she can use the Brita filters to filter out as much drinking water as she can before the water goes back off.

Shipping Receipt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10/7/17

Donations received  to date: $665.00

Money spent on Supplies to date: $351.98

I ended up going back to the post office yesterday. During my first trip, I was unable to send the batteries I had purchased and nearly cried when they wouldn’t take the large box that contained a gas can meant for Utuado, Puerto Rico. Right now in Utuado, people have to stand in line for 10 hours to get gas, so I wanted to send an extra 5 gallon gas can to a friend there. I called several USPS lines and got all different answers about how to send batteries. In the end, I just followed advice from other people on the mainland who have mailed batteries to their families. I was able to get the batteries out Priority, but the gas can had to take a slower route due to its size.

Hopefully by Tuesday I’ll have delivery confirmations from the Trujillo Alto and Utuado and I’ll be able to send more packages!

 

10/19/17

Donations received  to date: $665.00

Money spent on Supplies to date: $351.98

Unfortunately, I don’t have much of an update. All 4 of the packages I sent are now marked as In Transit, Delayed, with no real details. I checked again this morning, and these are the most recent updates:

 

 

Communications are getting slightly better, so I have been able to talk to a few more people. Supplies are still desperately needed. At this point, I am torn between sending more supplies knowing that there is in indefinite delay and waiting until the original 4 arrive before sending more items.  I’ll let you all know what I decide.

Donations are still appreciated and will be put to good use.

Around 90% of the island is still without power and most people don’t have running water. People have either lost their jobs or cannot work due to the conditions, so I know people will continue to need support. We may be stuck right now, but, eventually, we’ll be able to get supplies directly to people who desperately need them. I’m frustrated with the USPS, but I won’t give up!

10/26/17

Donations received  to date: $665.00

Money earned/donated through sales from Trade Winds Glass: $150

Money spent on Supplies to date: $374.23

Good news, photos, and plans for more packages. I’m budgeting the money the best I can, but donations are still appreciated as I expect to be sending a lot more packages very soon.

The packages finally arrived!

The Trujillo Alto packages included supplies for this adorable baby, Enrique, who turned 1 this month. He thanks you for the donations that bought him formula, diapers, and baby wipes!

 

 

This is a text I received from my friend who distributed some items in Trujillo Alto. She works at a school.

 

She added that she is fine, but if I have anything for her students, she will gladly distribute. Currently I am working on getting a lot of English books together to send over, as they are very much needed, especially since the school and the students are still without electricity. I also want to send more food supplies for kids like that student.  I’m going to try to get donations locally, but I also dug through a bargain bin at a comic book store for some graphic novels. Receipt:

Communications are slightly better now, so I have heard from a few more people with requests for items such as hygiene products and mosquito nets. I’m working with a friend who has a lot of physical donations but not a lot of funds to ship them. We will most likely team up so I can use some of what I have left from donations to help with shipping costs. Of course, I will still need to buy any supplies that were not donated.

Mail service is still very slow, but the need for supplies is still dire. If you’d like to donate, remember you can either Venmo me directly @rease-kirchner or donate through the Law Office I work for here.

 

11/3/17

Donations received  to date: $665.00

Money earned/donated through sales from Trade Winds Glass: $150

Money spent on Supplies to date: $418.12

I did a small shipment via Amazon today to see how fast/slow Amazon orders are. Receipts:

A couple friends collected these books and generously offered to pay for shipping. These will go to a school in Trujillo Alto, where the kids still do not have electricity at the school or at home.

 

I hope to send more packages next week!

 

 

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