The island of Puerto Rico was already significantly affected by Hurricane Irma, with 12 towns declared disaster zones and leaving 1 million residents without power. Unfortunately, this would be only a fraction of what was to come less than 2 weeks later thanks to Hurricane Maria.
Puerto Rico was no match for the Category 4 hurricane, whose 155 mph winds and hours of heavy rain trampled people's homes, flooded the streets and took down the entire island's power and cell towers. A week has passed and not much has changed due to the massive damage and debris, leaving residents essentially no way to communicate how they are with their loved ones.
As of today, there are 16 confirmed deaths according to the Associated Press, however, that number is expected to rise. Almost 3.4 million people are still without power, and any items such as food or water they may have purchased to get them through the storm are most likely depleted by now.
The following list contains information on drop-off locations where you can donate necessary items, local businesses who are lending a hand, and organizations where monetary donations can be made.
For information on loved ones:
USA.gov is suggesting the following:
- Call Puerto Rico’s local radio station WIPR at 787-777-0940
- You can also try to find family and friends via the American Red Cross
The Sanctum Cafe | Donations accepted through 10/1, Puerto Rico bowl available through Saturday
The Sanctum created a Puerto Rico bowl which encompasses flavors from the island and will donate $1 from each bowl sold. They will also be collecting the following items through September 30 and will offer a 10% discount for anyone who makes a donation:
- baby formula & diapers
- first-aid kits
- non-perishable food
- bedding, sheets
- drinking water
- hygiene products
- adult diapers
- feminine care items
- sleeping bags
- pet food/supplies
- basic kitchenware
- bug repellent
De Azucar Bakery | Tuesday-Saturday 9/30 from 7am-5pm
This bakery in Oviedo is collecting the following items:
- bottled water
- baby wipes
- hand sanitizer and wipes
- canned foods
- dry foods
- baby formula
- garbage bags
- canned milk
- canned and dry pet food
- baby and adult pain relief medicine
- stomach and diarrhea relief medicine
- mosquito repellant
- first aid kits
- laundry detergents
- dish soap
- cots and air mattresses
- ground fault protectors
- pop-up canopies
- work gloves
*Please no clothing donations at this time
Buttermilk Bakery | Through Oct 1
Buttermilk Bakery has pledged to donate 10% of sales from this weekend (through Oct 1) to the Hispanic Federation.
Wondermade | Through Oct 1
Wondermade will donate 100% of their profits from 9/29-10/1 both in-store and online to Hurricane Maria disaster relief in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Wondermade is also offering a 25% discount both online and in-store all weekend. Go give them a visit in Sanford this weekend!
Cuba Libre Orlando | October 7
Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar in Pointe Orlando will be offering a special three-course prix fixe menu for $35, featuring an appetizer, entree, and dessert, from 5 – 11pm on Saturday, October 7 to raise critical funds for the victims of Hurricane Maria. 20% from every menu sold on October 7* (up to $1,000) will go to United for Puerto Rico.
Make a reservation online, or call 407-226-1600 to book your table.
Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park | Through 10/15
Peterbrooke Chocolatier (Winter Park location on Park Ave) will donate $1 from each chocolate ribbon pop sale. Or, make a $5 cash donation and receive a free chocolate covered Oreo or chocolate dipped pretzel rod.
This açaí bowl food truck is pledging to donate partial proceeds with any purchase in the next weeks towards the Hurricane Maria relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
Poses for Puerto Rico Yoga Class | October 19
Head to Orlando Brewing on October 19 for an all-levels yoga class led by Sarah Burnett. 100% of the proceeds from the class will go to hurricane aid efforts in Puerto Rico. Tickets are $20/person, and include $1 off all Orlando Brewing drafts for participants.
Orlando Cares – Hope for Puerto Rico | Through October 31
Feeding Children Everywhere is packaging 4.4 million meal kits for Puerto Rico and needs volunteers for shifts throughout the rest of October. Shifts are open weekdays from 10am-9pm and weekends from 8am-9pm at the Orange County Convention Center.
Power for Puerto Rico | November 5
This benefit bike ride in Winter Garden will feature an 8-mile family friendly course along the West Orange Trail in addition to short and long road cycling routes. 100% of the event registration fees will go towards purchasing generators and sending them to Puerto Rico. Registration in advance is $35.
City of Orlando & Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration | Orlando location through 10/1, Kissimmee location open indefinitely
The City Of Orlando is uniting with the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration and lending a hand by collecting items at two Orlando locations.
Items that are being collected: drinking water, disposable plates, disposable cups, disposable cutlery, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, first aid kit, tent, sleeping bags, bed sheets, clothes, diapers, baby wipes, baby formula and medication like ibuprofen. They have established locations all over central Florida in Orange, Seminole and Osceola Counties. Please visit the CASA Facebook page prior to making any donations for details. Volunteers are also needed.
Drop off location for items:
- Puerto Rican Government 15 South Orlando Avenue, Kissimmee
- Acacia Florida Centro Borinqueño 1865 North Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando (there will be an Orlando United for Puerto Rico drop-off event from 12-2pm on Saturday, September 30 at this location – wear your #OrlandoUnited shirt when dropping off donations!)
- Rigo Tile Inc 1770 E Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy, Kissimmee
- Harbor Community Bank, 2320 S. Orange Ave., Orlando
- Harbor Community Bank, 11681 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando
- Harbor Community Bank, 430 N. Semoran Blvd., Orlando
- Harbor Community Bank, 2591 Simpson Road, Kissimmee
- Harbor Community Bank, 100 Park Place Blvd., Kissimmee
- Harbor Community Bank, 420 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs
- Harbor Community Bank, 251 W. First St., Sanford
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida | Currently accepting donations
As of Friday, September 29, 2017, the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is a drop-off location for supplies to aid in Hurricane Maria disaster relief. You can also make a monetary donation to aid with hurricane relief or volunteer. Basic items needed are as follows:
- Canned Goods
- Cleaning Supplies
- Cooking items
- Personal Care
- Bottled Goods
- First Aid Supplies
- Paper Goods
- Dry Goods
- Infant Care items
United by Puerto Rico is an organization created by the office of First Lady Beatriz Rosselló and a private sector group with the purpose of helping those affected by both Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Do you know of any local businesses and organizations lending a helping hand that we've missed? Please share them with us in the comments below so we can continue to spread the word.
Feature image credit: Arlene Laboy
Arlene Laboy is a professional brand photographer based out of Orlando, Florida. A wife and a mother, Arlene shares her love for adventuring around Florida and her professional work through her Instagram account, @arlenemlaboy. Find out more about Arlene here.