Locals collecting items for islands destroyed by Hurricane Maria

Locals offer help to St. Croix, Puerto Rico

TAMPA, Fla. -

People around the Bay are working to send a powerful message to people around the Caribbean after they were hit by two destructive storms.

Hurricane Maria left the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico without power, some could be without electricity for months.

“It’s incomparable to anything else that has ever happened here,” said Sydney Jones, who grew up between St. Croix and St. Thomas.

She’s now collecting non-perishable items to ship to St. Croix, which took a big hit from the then category 5 storm.

She’s already collected canned food, flashlights, water and air mattresses to send.

She’s also found a shipping company to send supplies via freight and purchased plane tickets for whenever the island is ready for travel.

“I’m doing everything I can to make sure I can help,” she said.

Across the Bay Ashley Rivera is focused on another island.

Her mom and family are in Puerto Rico where Hurricane Maria left much of the island without phone service.

“I feel like I just want to be there,” she said, “I want to do more.”

Her mom first went to the island to help take medications and other donated items after Hurricane Irma.

Now she’s working to help after Maria while her daughter plans to send help from more than a thousand miles away.

Rivera started the site, El Coqui que Vive Aqui, named after the small frog, native to the island.

She’s working with a Puerto Rican owned university with locations in Central Florida who are willing to pick up shipping costs to send items to the island as well as a local church who is helping provide a drop-off location.

Jones started a GoFundMe page to raise money to ship her items and is collecting donations at her St. Pete business. 

Both women hope their message will be heard not only around the islands, but right here around the bay.

“That they’re not alone,” said Jones.

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