The Voice

Relief Fund organized by students for Puerto Rico

By Arianna Erdman, Editor-in-Chief

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     It has been more than a month since Hurricane Maria made landfall and devastated the entire island of Puerto Rico. Although some of the power has been restored in parts of the island and supplies is being distributed to coastal cities, a large part of the population still faces daily struggles. Much of the interior of the country, which consists of mountains, forests and other natural barriers, is unreachable. The supplies meant for these regions is unable to penetrate the flooding and the downed trees. Residents in the interior are without power, clean water or other essentials, and rescuers are struggling to reach them. All over the island, citizens are still facing issues of shortages and access to critical supplies. Students at Bloomsburg University have decided to do something about that.

     Led by Dr. Hidalgo de Jesus of the Language and Cultures Department and director of Multicultural Affairs Madelyn Rodriguez, students from different clubs and organizations have come together to package supplies and mail it to Puerto Rico in hopes of alleviating some of the shortages. Javier Borras, one of the students who volunteered, explained that, “We fundraised essential items…simple things we can send to help, like toothpaste, shampoo, diapers, food…sending it to those who don’t have access to their homes or neighborhoods.”

 

     Dr. de Jesus put out a request for help in the project, and a variety of organizations came together to package these goods, which were collected not only from students but also from a local church. and a variety of organizations came together to package these goods, which were collected not only from students but also from a local church.

     Ian Severson, the vice president of HABLAS (Spanish Club), said that the club was asked to help by their advisor, de Jesus, and that they had discussed the difficulties the people of Puerto Rico were facing while working on this project. “Most of the aid seems to go mostly to the coast, so the interior, which is a lot of mountains and forests, isn’t getting a lot. We’re hoping this will help and that we’ll be able to send aid to the interior.” Severson also explained that some of the students who were helping had family in Puerto Rico, and that they talked about their relative on the island.

     While many of the volunteers were tied to the Language and Cultures Department, the occasion was by no means exclusive. Rachel Eicholtz, president of the Anthropology Club, was also helping out with some of her club mates after their advisor suggested they help out. “We were thrilled to help out…we were thinking of a way to do this when Dr. de Jesus sent out the e-mail, and it’s a very rewarding feeling to be helping.” When asked about the effort and what her club could bring to the table, Eicholtz said that, as anthro students, their holistic views of culture could really contribute to understanding, and that it was a great way for them to learn about Puerto Rico while helping people in the process. Eicholtz also stated that, if the need arose for such volunteerism again, they would “absolutely do it again.”
    

 

 

 “Most of the aid seems to go mostly to the coast, so the interior, which is a lot of mountains and forests, isn’t getting a lot. We’re hoping this will help and that we’ll be able to send aid to the interior,” said Ian Severson, the vice president of HABLAS (Spanish Club).

 

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Relief Fund organized by students for Puerto Rico