mural

First of all, thank you to everyone who’s reached out to me during this journey in Puerto Rico. I’m nearly done with my assignment, and every day has had its share of challenges and accomplishments. Anything I face pales in comparison with these survivors of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, many of whom have been without power and potable water since September 7 or 20, 2017.

hurricane damaged home

Some are still in great need of food, medical supplies and roofs on their homes. There are a lot of amazing people here helping from federal, state and local governments; private companies; and Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (VOADs). But you can help from anywhere in the world, especially this Giving Tuesday.

Why Are We Still Giving Food?

You may be wondering, “Why are there still people without food nearly three months after Hurricane Irma and over two months since Hurricane Maria?” Indeed, there are many food sources on the island with a pre-hurricane population of 3.4 million. The Puerto Rico Chamber of Marketing, Industry, and Distribution of Food reported that 88% of grocery stores are open. But they also report a difficulty in receiving items with which to stock the shelves.

empty grocery shelves

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and several volunteer organizations are providing food to those without grocery store access. Furthermore, it’s not necessarily about food access, it’s about people access. Puerto Rico has a central mountainous region, and many roads are impassable due to fallen trees, downed power lines and land slides. Some areas — and the people who live there — are only reachable by air. In fact, this is the longest sustained air and rescue mission in the history of FEMA.

Why Is It So Hard to Deliver Supplies?

Thinking now of the land — mountains, mud, islands, rain forest, valleys, rivers — I hope it helps explain why agencies and volunteers are working with some unique and hazardous conditions. Unfortunately, it’s never as simple as a van full of to-go boxes tooling around a beach. There’s a lot more to Puerto Rico than that, and that’s why it’s helpful to have a list of some organizations working here if you want to donate in this historic recovery effort.

mountains in puerto rico

I’ve been asked, “What’s the best charity to ensure that my donation is used directly by the people in Puerto Rico?” I’m touched to know so many souls who want to help Puerto Rico! I’ve compiled a few of the MANY non-profits I’ve seen here on the ground to help others find one that fits their areas of care. I am not personally involved with any of these charities, and these aren’t sponsored or affiliate links. I am just linking to some groups I’ve witnessed in action, the ones I would or have donated to. I hope that if you would like to donate to Puerto Rico’s hurricane recovery, this will help assure you that your gift is going to a good place.

Some people would prefer to donate supplies rather than money, and there are options for both here. I’ve linked to the groups’ funding pages or Facebook pages where applicable so you can see current response and recovery operations. I’ve listed these in alphabetical order, but in the comments, I will give a shout-out to my very favorites. You should too!

Where and How to Donate to Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Recovery

Adopt A Family Puerto Rico – Connecting families in Puerto Rico with families on the mainland wanting to help with either care packages sent to them or hosting displaced families in the USA

ADRA – Based in Puerto Rico, ADRA is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping and aiding in the development of the less fortunate regardless of their age, race, gender or religion.

American Red Cross – Mobilizing volunteers and relief supplies to help those in need; working with federal, corporate and community partners to get supplies to the region by both sea and air.

Americares – 5X donation match on #GivingTuesday! Americares saves lives and improves health for people affected by poverty or disaster so they can reach their full potential. They announced today (Nov. 28, 2017) that they are donating their mobile medical unit to Puerto Rico.

BARRIO Solar – Their aim is to support Puerto Rico in the short term with small solar units which will allow for a better quality of life during the reconstruction.

Black Flag Search and Rescue – Black Flag SAR is committed to ethically dispersing relief donations where needed. The team has managed large scale food and water donations for Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria to disperse directly to communities.

Boys and Girls Club of Puerto Rico – Their mission is to offer our participants a safe and creative place where they will develop them to become leaders who achieve their academic, personal and professional goals. One of my first jobs was with Boys and Girls Club; it changed my life, and through any Boys and Girls Club, you can help change lives too! Many Puerto Rican public schools are still closed, and students need extra support to study and not lose the school year.

Chefs De Borinquen- Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief – “Chefs of Puerto Rico” is a group of professional chefs from different parts of the USA that is working Puerto Rico to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria with food/meal provision in particularly hard-hit areas.

Clinton Foundation – The Clinton Foundation has already donated solar energy equipment and 76 tons of medicine and medical equipment to Puerto Rico and has pledged to help rebuild the island with renewable energy.

Friends of Puerto Rico – Friends of Puerto Rico provides financial support to selected individuals and non-profit organizations based in Puerto Rico that contribute to local arts, education, and entrepreneurship, while ultimately catalyzing economic development and stimulating job creation.

Iniciativa Comunitaria – Community Initiative is a state-of-the-art organization that works to jointly accompany the community in its development and transformation. They propose and drive an inclusive public policy sensitive and committed to achieve quality of life, healthy and harmonious coexistence especially in humans who suffer social exclusion. They are delivering supplies and changing lives.

Operation Agua – In solidarity with AFT, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Puerto Rican teachers union—the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico — you can donate water filters for families in Puerto Rico in need of safe water.

Open Food Puerto Rico – This group is currently hosting a major toy drive to donate to pediatric cancer patients in the city of Ponce, Puerto Rico.

PureWater – PureWater’s mission focuses on two separate, yet closely related issues: Plastic water bottle pollution and access, or lack-thereof, to clean, potable drinking water. For every PureWater Filtration Bottle that is pre-ordered, an additional bottle will be gifted to a student in Puerto Rico.

Ricky Martin Foundation for the People of Puerto Rico – in partnership with Music for Relief, donations here will help provide light, power and hope.

Salvation Army – “Doing The Most Good.” In these four words, is the mission of Salvation Army – to feed, to clothe, to comfort, to care. The people I’ve met here working with Salvation Army truly live up to that with kind and giving hearts.

Samaritan’s Purse – They specialize in meeting critical needs for victims of conflict, disaster, famine, and epidemics throughout the world, often working through ministry partners on the ground.

Supply Samaritan – Their mission is to foster human kindness and provide a way to help people in need, and those who want to help people in need, heal and rebuild communities affected by disasters. They help connect people to supplies.

hurricane debris on roadside

In Conclusion

This list is by no means inclusive to the ways you can help Puerto Rico recover and rebuild from Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Please comment below or on the Trailheaders Facebook Page with other charities you know should be added to this list.

Thank you for your generosity and consideration. You may light another’s candle with your own without loss, says a Puerto Rican proverb to remember today and many days in the future.

You may light another's candle with your own without loss. Puerto Rican Proverb

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  1. Tara November 29, 2017 at 2:46 am - Reply

    Americares is doing a 5x match for Giving Tuesday! PureWater serves two great causes in one and offers a tee shirt. Operation Agua impressed me because so many teachers I know spend a lot of personal money for necessities in their own classrooms as it is.

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