Maria victims cant reach families in New Haven

Churches, city workers, and even school students are stepping up as the Elm City helps Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. (WFSB)

People in New Haven are stepping up to the plate to help Puerto Rico.

City departments, churches, and even schools are collecting money and supplies for the island following last week's Hurricane Maria.

Inside New Haven's Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal, church members and volunteers were busy sorting and organizing items on Monday that will make their way to Puerto Rico.

"It is devastating that we're here and we can’t do nothing to fly over there and provide our help and comforting,” state Rep Juan Candelaria (D-New Haven) said. “I can't do that."

But, following Hurricane Maria, Candelaria along with others are helping to collect money and supplies for the island, which is home to 3.5 million U.S. citizens. For Candelaria, he said the tragedy is personal.

"My aunt had passed away due to the Hurricane,” Candelaria said. “She was in the house, and the house was blown away with her in it."

Other family members of Candelaria are now in shelters. In addition to Saturday’s collection drive, the mayor is asking city departments to consider doing their own and so are schools.

"We're trying to engage as young people into the community,” Kadir Sahim, who is a senior at Engineering and Science University Magnet School, said.

Students with New Haven's Engineering and Science University Magnet School said they are already thinking of how they can help.

"We have dress down days where you can pay a dollar to dress down, and we have more than $500 kids,” Saimanasa Juluru, who is a senior at Engineering and Science University Magnet School, said. “We can easily raise more than $500 dollars for these relief efforts."

For Dr. Marietta Vazquez, who is a pediatrician with Yale-New Haven Hospital, she said she's focusing on much-needed medical supplies and more importantly, how to get all the donations they've collected, now down there.

"They need gloves, they need gauzes, they need IV tubing and lifesaving medications, antibiotics,” Vazquez said. "Now the great problem to have, these supplies are very large, we're talking over 2000 pounds and we really need to have this way to reach Puerto Rico.”

The following locations will be collecting money and non-perishable items this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Front Street at Pierpont Street Grand Avenue at Ferry Street Kimberly Avenue at Lamberton Ella T Grasso Boulevard at Columbus Boulevard State and Elm streetsTo donate to the GoFundMe page, click here.

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