MIAMI – After the impact of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans need bottled water, canned foods and hygiene products. Local businesses have started to collect donations.
Puerto Ricans need first-aid kits, pain relief medicine, and stomach and diarrhea relief medicine. Parents need diapers, baby formula, baby wipes, canned milk, dry foods, and baby pain relief medicine. There is also a need for hand sanitizers, garbage bags, towels, mosquito repellant, blankets, pillows, laundry detergents, dish soap and cots.
Puerto Ricans were struggling with the logistics of delivering goods, so there is desperation on the island. Despite the damaged roads and a shortage of gas and drivers, many organizations were making progress. The U.S. Coast Guard announced Thursday the ports in San Juan, Guayanilla, Tallaboa, and Salinas were open.
Here is a list of local drop-off locations:
MIAMI-DADE: The South Florida Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce in Miami-Dade is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 3550 Biscayne Blvd. #306. For more information, call 305-571-8006 or visit the Activados Por Puerto Rico site.
- The Pérez Art Museum Miami at 1103 Biscayne Blvd. Donors will receive free admission until Oct. 15. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, call 305-375-3000.
- The Mana Wynwood Convention Center will be collecting donations from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., at 318 NW 23 St. For more information, call 305-573-0371.
- Wynwood Brewing Company at 565 NW 24 St. For more information, call 305-982-8732.
- Kush, 2003 N. Miami Ave. For more information, call 305-576-4500.
- The Spillover, 2911 Grand Ave., #400D, in Coconut Grove. For more information, call 305-456-5723.
- The Lokal, 3190 Commodore Plaza, in Coconut Grove. For more information, call 305-442-3377.
- Laura and Jorge Posada from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 11125 NW 29 St., in Doral.
- Hecny Transportation at 1904 NW 82 Ave., in Doral needs volunteers to help deal with donations. For more information, call 305-477-9772.
Some of them could be running out of space, as is the case with the Isla del Encanto restaurants and the Ana G. Mendez campus in Miami Lakes, so call before you go.
PALM BEACH: The Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce in Palm Beach County listed two drop-off locations that will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 29 and Sept. 30.
- Greenacres Community Center, 501 Swain Blvd., in Greenacres.
- La Cosinita Latina Restaurant, 24780 South Congress Ave., Palm Springs.
BROWARD: The Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce in Broward County was collecting donations from 2 to 7 p.m., Thursday at 4161 NW 44 Ave. in Sunrise.
- Art Sign Co. is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday, at 835 NW 6 Ave. in Fort Lauderdale. For more information, call Justin Yoel at 954-763-4410.
- Souveniles de Puerto Rico from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 5925 Johnson St., Hollywood. For more information, call 954-967-9467.
Here is a list of sites to donate online:
The Puerto Rican government set up their United For Puerto Rico campaign and was asking anyone wishing to make donations or volunteer to visit their site, or call 202-800-3134 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. They have a Twitter, Facebook and YouTube account.
- - Boys and Girls Club of Puerto Rico established a fund on their site.
- - Center for a New Economy set up a fund on Classy.org.
- - ConPRmetidos set up a page on generosity by Indiegogo.
- - Caras is raising funds for ConnectRelief.
- - Taller Salud is raising funds on Click and Pledge.
Tips from experts on how to help effectively
While the urge to donate clothes and other supplies is natural, money is the best way to contribute during times of disaster, charities and philanthropy experts say. That's not to say there's never a time and place for supplies.
GIVE TO ESTABLISHED CHARITIES: GuideStar's website has a database that lets you vet charities . You can find information on a charity's expenses, assets and revenue, as well as its programs. Stacy Palmer, editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, also suggests looking at a charity's website for information on how it will use donations.
TEXTING TO GIVE? It might be tempting to make a donation through a text and have the phone company charge it on your phone bill. It's easy, and it might feel as though it's the quickest way to get money to a charity. But Palmer says that's not the case, as charities have to wait for the phone companies to release the money.
The quickest way to give is to go to the charity's website and donate directly, using a credit or debit card. That said, relief agencies will need money beyond first few days or even weeks, so if the ease of text donations appeals to you, tap away.
To donate $10 to the Red Cross via text, send a text message saying "REDCROSS" to the number 90999. Apple users in the U.S. can also donate to the American Red Cross through the company's iTunes and app stores. On Google, searching for terms such as "Hurricane Maria" will let you donate directly in the search results. Just scroll down and you'll find an option to give $5, $25 or $50 to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy .
Consider saving some of your money so you can donate again in a few weeks or months. Better yet, set up a recurring donation to support your chosen charity over time. Some charities will say when they have raised enough for a particular disaster and use any extra money for their general fund, Palmer says. This isn't bad.
"One of the things this disaster shows is that it's important to have resilience," she says. "It's smart to just give and say that it can be used wherever it's most needed."
CROWDFUNDING: Group fundraising services such as GoFundMe let people raise money for friends, families, neighbors or themselves - as well as for charity. As always, do your homework before giving to a stranger or cause online. GoFundMe has a special page for Hurricane Maria pleas for charities, individuals and families. GlobalGiving , a crowdfunding site for charities, is trying to raise $2 million for local relief and recovery efforts. Remember that donations are tax-deductible only if they go to a registered nonprofit or charity. Otherwise, they are generally considered gifts.
HOLD OFF ON MATERIAL DONATIONS Donating food, clothing and household items can complicate and even hinder relief efforts, experts say. After Superstorm Sandy in 2012, for example, there were reports of relief agencies not knowing what to do with the piles of clothing and other unsolicited items pouring in.
The U.S. Center for Disaster Information says such donations "require transportation - which is expensive and logistically complicated - and a pre-identified recipient on the ground who will receive the shipment, pay customs and other fees, sort and distribute the items." Unsolicited goods, the agency says , are "never required in early stages of response, and they compete with priority relief items for transportation and storage."