Right now, 3,000 families are out of their homes in Puerto Rico, according to Puerto Rico Senator Carmelo Javier Ríos Santiago. They DO NOT need bottled water, but they DO need “Backpack Survival Kits.” Gándara Center has now shifted our efforts to searching for donations of new or used backpacks, non-perishable food items, can openers, collapsible water bottles/items to carry water in, flashlights, batteries, and solar powered lights.
On January 17, Gándara Center had a meeting with Senator Ed Markey, State Representative Carlos González, and a number of legislators and community organizations at the UMass Center in Springfield to discuss the earthquake in Puerto Rico.
We spoke with Senator Santiago on the phone to find out the current need of the people on the island, which has now sparked our efforts to put together backpack survival kits with the donations we’ve received. Those donations will be taken down to Puerto Rico by Gándara Center employees and delivered to families in need.
The public should also know that Gándara Center’s growing emergency help drive for earthquake victims in Puerto Rico has expanded into eastern Massachusetts. Gándara Center has strong ties to Puerto Rico. Many employees, as well as clients, are from there, and they have family members living on the island.
As is the case in western Massachusetts, several of the eastern Massachusetts communities that Gándara Center serves have large Puerto Rican populations who want to help. The agency was founded in Springfield in 1977 but over the years has grown to more than 40 locations across the state, including Boston, Brockton, Plymouth, Hyannis, New Bedford, and Fitchburg.
“We’ve had a tremendous response to this drive in western Massachusetts, and there are many people in eastern Massachusetts who want to assist us in this statewide initiative,” said Jade Rivera-McFarlin, marketing and development director at Gándara Center. “They want to help the people suffering from this disaster.”
The 6.4-magnitude earthquake on January 7 killed at least one person, injured at least nine others, collapsed buildings, and has caused power outages. With the recovery from Hurricane Maria in 2017 still ongoing, relief efforts have taken on even greater importance, especially as the island endures earthquake aftershocks.
The drop-off locations are Gándara Center offices at:
- 140 McClellan Highway, East Boston
- 142 Crescent St., 2nd Floor, Brockton
- 376 Nash Rd., New Bedford
- 100 Franklin Rd., Fitchburg
- 147 Norman Street, West Springfield
- 80 Commercial Street, Holyoke
Only new items are requested, please. Monetary donations will also be accepted. Please make checks payable to Gándara Center, Memo: 2020 Help for P.R. The donations will be collected until January 31.
Gándara Center appreciates your kindness and generosity in this dire situation.
This isn’t the first time Gándara Center has responded to a humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. In 2017, after the agency mobilized to help refugees from Hurricane Maria, its Springfield Family Resource Center was given a Governor’s Citation in recognition of the work it did for families displaced by the storm.