Community Gathers to Aid Hurricane Victims

By Jambar Contributor

Dan Genaro

The community of Youngstown is coming together to help the victims of natural disasters that devastated Puerto Rico and Mexico.

The Civic and Cultural Hispanic American Organization invited members of the community to join a meeting Sept. 29 to help victims of hurricanes Irma, Maria and Nate.

Local citizens, businesses and organizations gathered at the OCCHA Social Hall to support those in need living in Mexico and Puerto Rico.

The meeting began at 6 p.m. and featured panelists that spoke of the importance of donating to aid the neighboring countries and territories.

Among the panelists was Ana Torres, co-advisor of the Youngstown State University Latino Student Organization and board member of OCCHA.

Torres said any donations would benefit the cause.

“Despite the challenging times, we ask for the generosity of the community in donating goods and encourage monetary donations that can help the victims in so many ways,” Torres said. “All goods and supplies will be sent to Puerto Rico and the monetary donations to both Mexico and Puerto Rico through Convoy of Hope.”

Torres continues to recruit volunteers and collect donations until Puerto Rico and Mexico can get back on their feet.

YSU physics professor Snjezana Balaz attended the meeting to support OCCHA.

Balaz said the devastation of Puerto Rico and Mexico warrants the U.S.’s help.

“Puerto Ricans are citizens who pay taxes and we should actually help them regardless,” Balaz said. “The event brought the local community together to find a way where we can help.”

After seeing three consecutive hurricanes demolish two countries, community members feel the urge to pitch in. By creating a space where those people can come together, OCCHA successfully began to accomplish their goal of supporting Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Director of OCCHA, Mary Lou Reyes, said the meeting served as a brainstorming session and a place to accept donations.

The panelists and attendees formed a list of donation items to serve as a model for the community.

“We are asking for monetary donations: canned food — nonperishable, solar powered lights, batteries, bottled water, powder baby formula and diapers and wipes for adults and children,” Reyes said.

The OCCHA disaster relief drive for Puerto Rico and Mexico will be held at 3660 Shirley Road Oct. 15. from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.