Puerto Rico relief efforts underway at FSU

The Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement is collecting supplies to donate to the citizens of Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, according to the Framingham State website. 

FSU is working with the organization “Southbridge for Puerto Rico,” which will sort, pack and deliver the donated supplies to another organization in Boston, which will then ship the boxes to Puerto Rico. 

On Wednesday Sept. 20, Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico. 

Hurricane Maria was the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in 89 years, according to The Weather Channel. 

Millie González, interim chief diversity and inclusion officer, sent out an email on Sept. 29 to the FSU community informing the campus about the donation efforts.

“We ask for the Framingham State community to donate whatever you can contribute because the people of Puerto Rico are suffering and need assistance,” said González.

Roxana Marrero, executive administrative assistant to the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement, informed González of Southbridge’s relief efforts. Marrero resides in Southbridge, González said. 

This project was a joint effort between González and Marrero. 

“Without Roxana’s help and connection to Southbridge, it would have been difficult to get our donations to the people of Puerto Rico,” González added. 

Marrero said, “I am from Puerto Rico, as well as many members of my community, and we knew we needed to do something to help. … I offered to transport the donations to Southbridge because we had the logistics in place already.”

The students and faculty of FSU are not the only contributors to the donations for Puerto Rico, she added.

González said Sodexo has donated boxes to package the donations for easy transport to Southbridge, as well as W.B. Mason, which has donated a truckload of water.

The relief effort has been successful, said Marrero. 

“This first shipment was picked up by the National Guard on Friday, Oct. 6. We shipped a total of 50,000 pounds of goods,” she said. “FSU’s donations were part of the total contribution.”

Molly Fennessey, a senior, said, “I honestly don’t know much about the donation boxes on campus, but I think they are great.” 

Fennessey said she wished the boxes were advertised better so more students could be made aware of the efforts. 

Due to the lack of electricity, contact with Puerto Rico has been very difficult for family, friends and volunteers. 

Marrero said, “Some of us have not heard from our families yet or have only been able to know of them through other people.” 

Cristal Polanco, a senior, said, “It’s so sad. I was reading today that 90 percent of the island does not have water. There’s definitely more that we can do [to help].” 

Donations for Puerto Rico will be collected until Friday, Oct. 13.

Donation boxes are located in the McCarthy Center, the library, the Center for Inclusive Excellence, the counseling center and Dwight Hall 311B, said González.

The email sent to the campus community lists possible donated items, including water, toiletries, cleaning supplies, canned goods and first aid materials.

Marrero and González said The Center for Inclusive Excellence are developing ideas about “community conversation” about the devastation. 

González said she will update the online guide if there are any updates on the relief efforts.

“My heart breaks for the people of Puerto Rico and the beautiful island. Roxana and I appreciate all of your donations,” said González. 

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