Western Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico

—– SPRINGFIELD, MA – September 22, 2017 – The island of Puerto Rico has been devastated by Hurricane Maria. Most cities and towns are currently without power, and while many residents in Western Massachusetts are desperate to get in touch with loved ones, they stand ready to help with relief efforts.   Local community leaders have come together to form Western Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico, a coalition of political leaders, non-profit organizations, business owners, religious leaders and community activists who will be organizing donation drives, fundraiser events, and working with the government of Puerto Rico to get aid where it is most needed.  Massachusetts State Representative Carlos Gonzalez (D-Springfield), is one of the local leaders organizing this collation. He says that the Western Mass. community stands ready to assist the island of Puerto Rico, just as they have done so on many occasions, and he is grateful for the outpouring of support already received. 

“I want to extend a sense of gratitude to all who have come together to coordinate the relief efforts for Puerto Rico and the community for their outcry and willingness to be involved. Especially, I want to thank Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, Congressman Richard Neal, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Pat Markey, and our local elected officials, for their collaboration. Also, thanks to the United for Puerto Rico Coalition for proactively organizing efforts between the island and the Diaspora,” said State Representative Carlos Gonzalez.  Puerto Ricans have lived in the Western Mass. region for generations, contributing to the economy, culture and history of Western Massachusetts.  Holyoke has a nearly 50 percent Latino population, largely made up of Puerto Ricans and Springfield follows closely behind with a 38.8 percent Latino population.   The Western Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico coalition would like for residents to get clear and concise information about how to make donations, both monetary and items. Community organizer Waleska Lugo-DeJesús says that while many like her await to hear from their loved ones, helping one another brings a sense of unity. 
“If there is something that greatly characterizes our community, it is that we come together to help one another in times of need. Regardless of race, gender identity, creed or religion, we unite as people, and this time it is the residents of Puerto Rico that need us,” said Lugo-DeJesús Director, the Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley.
HOW TO DONATE: Financial donations: The Western Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico has established an account at Freedom Credit Union (FCU) where people can safely donate to the Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico relief efforts. The fund is called the Western MA Puerto Rican Relief Fund and donations will be received at all FCU branches. All of the money collected will go to Puerto Rican organizations directly working with victims of the hurricane. For a list of FCU branch locations click, go to: https://www.freedom.coop/about-us/contact-us/hours-locations/List of donation items: batteries, flashlights, survival water purifying tablets, first aid kits, bandages, small tool kits, hygiene products, sewing kits, small fire extinguishers, manual can openers, wrenches to turn off gas lines, battery operated radios, garbage bags, dish soap, disinfectant, paper cups, plates, napkins, latex gloves and work gloves, baby wipes, sterile eye wash, sun screen, hand sanitizer, antibiotic ointment, adhesive tape and prepackaged tarps. *No food or clothes at this time

Donation sites:

HOLYOKENueva Esperanza, 401 Main St. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. daily 413- 437-7666 * Volunteers needed to sort and package items at this location
SPRINGFIELDNorth End Funeral Home, 130 Carew St. Sept. 29, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.  & Sept. 30, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Greenleaf Community Center, 1188 Parker St., 413- 787-6448, Open Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-3 p.m.;  Brightwood Library, 359 Plainfield St., 413- 263-6805,  Open Mon., Wed. 1- 5 p.m.; Tues., Thurs. 1-8 p.m.; Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. ; Indian Orchard Community Center, 111 Main St., Indian Orchard, 413- 543-3930, Open Mon., Tues. 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m.;  Mason Square Library, 765 State St., 413-263-6853, Open Mon., Tues. 1 p.m.-5 p.m.; Wed. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thurs. 1 -8 p.m.; Fri. 1-5 p.m.; Springfield Election Office, 36 Court Street, City Hall, Room 8, Mon-Fri 9 a.m.- 3 p.m.;  Richard E. Neal Operation Center, 70 Tapley St., 413- 787-6020, Open Mon-Fri. 9 a.m.- 3 p.m.

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