SHARONVILLE, Ohio -- More than 400 volunteers spent Saturday morning packing over 150,000 high-protein meals to benefit hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.
Hurricane Maria devastated the island Sept. 20, and, according to the latest figures from the government, killed at least 45 people. About 85 percent of residents still lack electricity and 40 percent are without running water, and neither is expected to be fully restored for months Many families on the mainland are still waiting to hear from loved ones.
The nearly 3 million survivors, who are U.S. citizens, also need food and medical supplies.
Cincinnati for Puerto Rico and A Child's Hope International organized Saturday's event at The Hope Factory, 2430 East Kemper Road. They're sending 700 "hope" boxes to Puerto Rico; each will have the potential to make 100 gallons of drinking water. One box also will carry 216 high-protein meals and a newspaper in Spanish to deliver "good news." They're also sending blankets, water buckets and new shoes.
For Anamar Naish, president of Cincinnati for Puerto Rico, the devastation is personal. Naish is from Puerto Rico, and she has family living on the island.
"I can tell you that my family specifically doesn't have access to internet,” Naish said. “Some of my families don't have water. None of them have electric power."
Larry Bergeron, executive director for A Child’s Hope International, said he measured the success of the event in the power behind volunteerism.
"You can build a machine perhaps to make some of these supplies. The machine doesn't have a heart, a soul, it doesn't have empathy for the people in need,” Bergeron said.
Both groups worked with WCPO to raise $30,500 during telethon Monday. Their goal is to get to $37,500.