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RCC Takes Lead Role in Hurricane Maria Relief Effort for Puerto Rico

RCC Takes Lead Role in Hurricane Maria Relief Effort for Puerto Rico

RCC Students packing a truck with supplies for the hurricane relief effort for Puerto Rico.

College-based task force coordinates shipment of 4,500 pounds of donations, $2,600 in gift cards

DATE: July 3, 2018

RAMAPO, N.Y. – The devastation of Hurricane Maria to Puerto Rico last September triggered humanitarian efforts from many quarters. One of those efforts originated from a small group of concerned individuals at Rockland Community College and has resulted in thousands of pounds of donations and more than $2,500 in gift cards sent to residents of the crippled island.

The RCC Aid to Puerto Rico Task Force assembled within weeks of the catastrophic event – the worst hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years. By early October, thanks to the generosity of the college community, a shipment of water, flashlights, non-perishable food, first aid supplies, toiletries and disposable diapers was on its way for distribution to hard-hit residents. Senator David Carlucci, a 2000 RCC alumnus, and a Puerto Rico-based veterans organization assisted with the initial effort.

In the months that followed, the task force received donations not only from RCC students, faculty and staff, but also from many others in Rockland County. Task force coordinator Inez Rivera, a faculty counselor/instructor in RCC’s Student Development Center, picked up donations from several groups in the county including Congregation Sons of Israel in Nyack and Pomona Middle School. At the latter, students decorated and filled shoe boxes with donations and notes of support for the people of Puerto Rico, a commonwealth of the United States whose residents are American citizens.

Following a visit in March by a collaborating contact in Puerto Rico, who came to thank the college for its generosity and provide an overview of the progress made and continuing challenges faced, the task force assembled eight pallets of donations for transport to the island. Some 4,500 pounds of donations were collected, everything from water, non-perishable foods and over-the-counter medications to toiletries, school supplies and children’s books, as well as new and gently used clothing and shoes for adults and children. Additionally, $2,600 in Walmart gift cards – 52 cards worth $50 each – were distributed via the nonprofit organization Altrusa International.

“Some of us on the task force, myself included, have family and friends on the island,” says Rivera. “This tragic event not only destroyed many homes, business and services on the island but led to the death of thousands of people. This horrific event was cause for despair but action serves as an antidote to despair. I strongly believe that every action, however small, has the potential for positive impact.”

At the end of the 2017-2018 academic year the task force met and renewed its commitment to continue its efforts when school resumes in the fall. “With the upcoming hurricane season before us,” Rivera says, “it is our hope that the island of Puerto Rico and its residents will be spared any strong weather events, allowing the rebuilding to continue and for stability to be achieved.”

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CONTACT: Strategic Marketing