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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Students look to aid Puerto Rico with drive

Red+collection+boxes+are+placed+in+locations+all+around+NE+Campus+for+students%2C+staff+and+faculty+to+donate+to+the+victims+of+Hurricane+Maria+in+Puerto+Rico.
Red collection boxes are placed in locations all around NE Campus for students, staff and faculty to donate to the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Photo by Peter Matthews/The Collegian

By Kathryn Kelman/editor-in-chief

A NE Latino student organization is sponsoring a donation drive to help the people of Puerto Rico with hurricane relief.

Spanish instructor and TACHE-OLAS adviser Humberto Rodriguez talked to the club about helping out with the effort. They then discussed how the group and the college could help their fellow Americans in Puerto Rico, NE student Denise Esqueda said.

“We took the decision to let people donate because one, the mayor herself of Puerto Rico asked for specific types of donations — no money at the moment,” Esqueda said. “Plus, I had this idea that people are more willing to give donations of this type than money.”

The relief effort for Puerto Rico has been low following Hurricane Maria, and the people of Puerto Rico need simple essentials that people often take for granted, she said.

Some people have this attitude that “it’s not part of us, so it’s not our problem,” Rodriguez said.

“At least half of Americans don’t know that Puerto Ricans are American citizens,” he said. “There’s no such thing as a Puerto Rican passport. Puerto Ricans are born American citizens.”

TACHE-OLAS members are looking to collect diapers, baby food, canned foods/nonperishables, batteries, first aid supplies, feminine hygiene products and gently used clothing.

The items can be placed in the red collection boxes at many locations around NE Campus such as the student activities office, the library and the NTAB lobby, Rodriguez said.

“They need pretty much everything, but I’ve done research and narrowed down the most critical things they need,” he said.

This relief effort is personal for Rodriguez, who lived in Puerto Rico as a baby. His immediate family moved to the States when he was young, but he still has extended family on the Caribbean island, he said.

When Rodriguez and his family first heard about the hurricane, it was a Category 2, but overnight the storm grew, and that’s when they started to worry, he said.

“I talked to all of my family the night before the hurricane hit,” Rodriguez said. “They were worried, but they were trying to remain positive.”

After Hurricane Maria hit, Rodriguez tried to get in touch with his family in Puerto Rico but couldn’t get a response from anyone, he said.

“Phone calls went straight to voicemail and texts went unanswered, which was really odd,” he said.

They didn’t know what was going on due to the lack of communication, and the news crews there couldn’t give people stateside the full story. So it was a big mystery, Rodriguez said.

“That was the hard part, just waiting to hear back,” he said.

It took a while before Rodriguez heard from his family.

“I think it was eight days afterward that I finally heard something, like a confirmation that everyone, all my family members were OK,” he said.

The southeast part of the island was wiped out, and while his family suffered a lot of property damage, they considered themselves lucky, Rodriguez said.

“My cousin tells me, ‘Oh, when you come back, you’re not going to recognize it. You’re not going recognize Puerto Rico,’” he said. “That was tough to hear, knowing that it was not going to be the same when I come back.”

Like a lot of the island, none of Rodriguez’s family has running water or electricity, and gasoline is hard to come by. Donations and resources that have already been shipped there are limited, and people have to wait in line for hours for everything, he said.

“Anything is going to help,” Rodriguez said. “We as a campus are not going to be able to put all of Puerto Rico on our backs, obviously. But if it helps at all, I think it’s worth it.”

Rodriguez hopes people don’t forget about Puerto Rico. If people can’t donate material goods to TACHE-OLAS, they can donate to the relief efforts online, he said.

“Puerto Rico is really in need of help right now,” he said. “It’s not going to be a quick fix.”

For more information, about the donation effort, email Rodriguez at humberto.rodriguez@tccd.edu.

 

Donation drop off locations

• NACB
Language Acquisition Center

• NSTU
Student Activities

• NBSS 1102
Dual Credit office

• The gym
2nd floor lobby

• The bookstore
NSTU

• The library

• NTAB lobby

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