SOUTH JORDAN — A group of Utahns with ties to Puerto Rico is heading to the island to assist with recovery efforts.
Much of the island is still without power two months after Hurricane Maria hit, which prompted about 45 volunteers to plan a humanitarian trip.
Light Up Puerto Rico helped raise $400,000 to purchase supplies like solar power light kits, generators and tent shelters for the residents who need it most.
Brad Herbert, son of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, helped organize the trip. He said it was the right things to do especially for a place he holds dear to his heart.
“I served an LDS mission there, and I fell in love with the island, its beauty and especially its people,” Herbert said. "As soon as I heard about the devastation, my heart broke. I just felt like, ‘What on earth can we do?’”
His group teamed up with Tifie, a humanitarian nonprofit that helped provide supplies like solar power kits from Goal Zero and tents from Barebones Living.
The volunteers are being creative in order to get the supplies on the plane. Each volunteer is allowed two check-in bags, but instead of bringing personal supplies, they're using luggage to bring over the supplies. Each piece of luggage has a weight limit of 50 pounds.
On Wednesday, the volunteers will head to Puerto Rico on their own dime to deliver the supplies.
“I am so glad we have an opportunity to take a light to those who need it,” Herbert said. “We are going to make a big difference out there.”
Puerto Rico native Cari Alvarado moved to Utah with her family last year. She got connected with the group and is helping to house the volunteers during the trip at her home in Bayamón on the island.
“It is the least we can do,” she said. “I can't believe how big or how amazing the response has been from the Utah people."
Alvarado said even though it has been difficult being away from extended family during this crisis, she feels it was meant to be.
“If we weren’t here in Utah when this happened, we would have never been connected to this group of volunteers,” she said. “Being here has made us find more resources and connect with more people that have been able to do this humanitarian trip.”
The group will be on the island for five days and are continuing to collect donations to purchase supplies. To help, visit the YouCaring site*.
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