Colton business and residents pitch in to help Puerto Rico

IECN Photo/Anthony Victoria: Osvaldo Vazquez is from Bayamon, Puerto Rico. He's helping fellow Puerto Ricans with food and clothing supplies.
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It’s difficult to see fellow Puerto Ricans suffer in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, explained Osvaldo Vazquez. It’s why he and others decided to help donate emergency items and other goods to the devastated island.

About two truck loads were delivered to Lynwood on Saturday, Sept. 30 where a local shipping company transported goods to the city of Toa Baja near Mayaguez. There are two more shipments scheduled to be sent to the Caribbean island.

The Rock Church was a big contributor to the Puerto Rican relief efforts–donating 60 pallets of bottled water, baby wipes, hand sanitizers, diapers, and canned foods

As of Tuesday, Oct. 3, there are 34 total deaths attributed to the hurricane, with electricity being estimated to be unavailable to residents for 3-6 months.

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IECN Photo/Anthony Victoria: Amanda Ramirez-Cardenas helping package donations to be sent to Puerto Rico at the G T Sew & Vac store in Colton on September 30, 2017.

“They’re struggling out there,” said Vazquez, who serves as vice president of the Victory Riders Christian Motorcycle Club. “The situation back on the island is extremely chaotic.”

The biggest worry for the 52-year-old U.S. Army veteran and retired truck driver was his 76-year-old mother’s safety. She spent more than a week without electricity or running water.

“Fortunately, my sister is arranging for my mother to come to the states,” Vazquez told IECN on Saturday. “I spoke to her two days ago and she’s OK.”

G T Sew & Vac owner Alex Martinez helped take in emergency supplies and clothing from customers interested in helping Puerto Ricans. Roughly 130 of Martinez’s family reside in Ponce–a city that serves as a popular tourist attraction for those looking to learn about the territory’s history.

IECN Photo/Anthony Victoria: Sew & Vac owner Alex Martinez helped take in emergency supplies and clothing from residents looking to help Puerto Ricans.

Martinez said the short term goal is to ensure his fellow boricuas are given the necessary support to get by during enduring times.

“We told ourselves, ‘Hey, let’s do something. It’s better than nothing,’” said Martinez. “You have many people on fixed incomes, many retirees, and ex-military down there. They were barely making it by as it is before the hurricane.”

Martinez and Vazquez are currently searching for nonprofits or other entities to help with shipping services and fees. For more information on how to help, call (909) 556-6223.

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