Syracuse University students have raised more than $10,000 for Puerto Rico

UPDATE (10/26):

Syracuse University students will have the opportunity to help rebuild Puerto Rico first hand after the devastation brought by Hurricane Maria in September. The Student Association is partnering with Hendricks Chapel for a disaster relief trip to the island over winter break. 

In a statement, Angie Pati and James Franco, vice president and president of the Student Association, said: " We have been so inspired and captivated by relief efforts led by the Puerto Rican community on campus."

Photo: Wilenie Sepulveda
A man wades through a street in Puerto Rico surveying the devastation.

SA will be also joining forces with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, the third largest disaster relief agency in the nation. The trip will be financed by the Student Association but students going will be required to fundraise a certain amount of money for it. 

The trip will take place on December 16th until December 22nd and is open to all undergraduate students, the application form can be filled out online. Once the application process is over and candidates are selected, there will be a round of individual and group interviews to select the group of students that will ultimately go to Puerto Rico to aid relief efforts. 


Syracuse University students have raised more than $11,000 to support the recovery of Puerto Rico after destructive Hurricane Maria bore down on Puerto Rico. 

They decided to donate all money to "Unidos por Puerto Rico," an initiative started by the island's first lady, Beatriz Areizaga. They also joined more than 70 other schools in the United States in a GoFoundMe campaign that has collected nearly $200,000. 

More than one month after the hurricane lashed at Puerto Rico with heavy rains, 88 percent of the population is still without power and 29 percent is without running water, according to The Weather Channel.

Five days after the hurricane hit, a group of Puerto Rican students at SU started planning ways to help those in need in their island. The students said they are pleased with the support provided by the university, which has facilitated open conversation and focused on making sure the students get the assistance and counseling they need in this emotional time. 

Puertorican faculty and staff like Bethaida "Bea" Gonzalez have supported the student's efforts and helped to unite the boricua community in Syracuse, said Michelle Hernandez, a leader of the efforts at Syracuse to support Puerto Rico.

"We were so happy to see that there are so many faculty members, staff and people in the Syracuse community, in general, who were there for us to really make this a big effort," she said.

The students are working on planning events to collect more donations, including a possible service trip over winter break in conjunction with Hendricks Chapel and the Student Association. 

"Drink for Puerto Rico" was held at Benjamin's on Franklin in Armory Square on Oct. 6 to raise awareness and resources to help the island recover after the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. 

"We not only want to help rebuild the country but also celebrate our culture," said Michelle Hernandez, a Syracuse senior and one of the organizers of the event. "Making it known what Puerto Rico is and what it stands for, how strong and fun Puertoricans are... and what better way to bring people together than sharing a drink?"

"Arriba, abajo al centro y adentro" the crowd cheered as they raised their glasses. The chanting and the sound of reggaeton in the background put the camaraderie and the festive spirit Puerto Ricans are known for in the air. 

Some of the students organizing the donations and events have felt Maria's force first hand.

"The 24 hours of the actual hurricane were surreal," said Javier Velez. "As soon as it was over, everybody went out to the streets and started cleaning out. You could see solidarity right away." 

He said his house and family fortunately did not suffer from major damages. Velez described the island, though, as a chaotic scene where the lack of basic services, particularly in rural areas, makes daily tasks very difficult. 

"It's the aftermath that really hurt," he said. "The solidarity started right after the hurricane. Meeting people that you've never met or even those who live next to you, it shows you that it can be rebuilt."

That solidarity inspires and motivates students like Michelle Hernadez to continue to support the island in any way they can, she said. 

"We're trying to think long-term and seeing what events we can make to continue to raise awareness," she said. 

The decision to focus on collecting only monetary donations rather than physical goods came after a long discussion about the difficulties of transporting the supplies to Puerto Rico. 

"It just didn't seem feasible," Hernandez said. "It's easier to just send money directly to organizations that we know will use the resources directly on the island."

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