Family with relatives in Puerto Rico collecting goods to send
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - As Puerto Rico tries to clean up the disaster Hurricane Maria left in her wake, family in Michiana are hoping to unite the community to send help.
It's hard to miss the Oliveras family's giant Puerto Rican flag hanging on the side of their home, raising in it in pride and solidarity for their stranded relatives.
It hangs right next to an American flag, which they put up almost as soon as they moved in--as a reminder of their pride in being United States citizens.
Now, when they look at pictures of the neighborhoods they left behind, they see crumbling roads, toppled trees, and remnants of someone's home strewn around their yard.
“My mom lost her house. Her brothers. And all of this is making us lose part of our culture," said Otoniel Oliveras.
They plan to preserve that culture with their larger than life Puerto Rican flag displayed on their house nearly 2,000 miles away from their family in South Bend.
“It’s coming from the bottom of my heart together with my compatriots from Puerto Rico to organize this event to collect the supplies they need," said Omar Oliveras Ocasio, Otoniel's son.
They're collecting water, rice, snacks, and more to send to their hometown, as soon as they can figure out how.
There are still few flights cleared to travel in and out of the island.
“The communication in Puerto Rico is completely cut off," said Omar.
Puerto Ricans are so isolated now that when the Oliveras and others can get in touch, they're telling family in Puerto Rico what's going on in the news.
“It’s painful to see Puerto Rico in this way ,but I’m also filled with happiness, because the united States, the entire area , those that are in Orlando, those that are in New York, everyone is united in this cause," said Maria Oliveras, Omar's mother.
"For our hearts, it's a shared disaster, but at the same time, I give thanks to God, because Puerto Rico is rising," said Omar.
From Saturday, September 30 through October 26, you can drop off supplies at the Oliveras house anytime after 11 a.m.
They're looking for coffee, water, canned food, rice, batteries, clothes, or anything else you'd like to provide.
Their house is located on the corner of Harrison Avenue and Lincolnway West in South Bend.
Just look for the Puerto Rican flag.
The group collecting these goods provided the following message in Spanish:
"Saludos hermanos La paz de Dios sea con ustedes. Estaremos recolectando articulos de primer auxilio para los hermano puertorriquenos estaremos como mas de un mes recolectando los que quieran ayudar solo avisen. Gracias.
Todos somos hermanos. Dios les bendiga."