Opportunities to Contribute and/or Volunteer Towards Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief, Find Resources for Displaced Families, Legal Aid, Employment and Other
This list was last updated on: 2/21/2018 @4:30 PM EST
Hurricane Maria landed in Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017 morning, shortly after Hurricane Irma did, causing unprecedented devastation in the island. With just over 100 days before the next hurricane season, the island remains in severe state of disrepair. Below is a running list of opportunities to contribute and donate, as well as to seek assistance. It will be updated as information becomes available. Please share.
- General/Online – Cash Donations
- Vieques Fund
- Culebra Fund
- New York, PA, VA, DC, MD Relief Activities
- Other locations and ongoing efforts
- Logistics and Volunteering in Puerto Rico
- Legal Aid
- Finding Family Members – Status by Town
- Employment Opportunities
- Reporting Emergencies
- Travel/Airline/Airlift Relief
- Pet Relief
- Status of Infrastructure Recovery
- Disaster Assistance Via FEMA
- Assistance for Families Moving to Florida
- Adopt a Family in Puerto Rico
- Educational Opportunities for Displaced Students
- Appeal to Congress for Assistance
GENERAL/ONLINE – CASH DONATIONS
Please scroll down for a diversity of opportunities to donate online in any way you wish, sponsored by government, foundations, world organizations, relief groups, and individuals.
Veterans for Borinquen, Inc. (To donate click here)
MISSION: Veterans for Borinquen, Inc. is a nonprofit organization of veterans and non-veterans dedicated to helping the victims of natural and man-made disasters in Puerto Rico including, but not limited to, veterans, their families and their communities. The organization provides assistance during the response, relief, recovery and reconstruction phases in the aftermath of a disaster or tragedy.
Veterans for Borinquen, Inc. (V4B) is the legacy of the dedicated team of volunteers who became a family while supporting U.S. Army veteran Jason Maddy’s ground mission in Puerto Rico, enabling logistics and ground relief operations post Hurricane Maria. With the help of countless volunteers, Jason’s tremendous mission in the island benefitted many. Inspired by this amazing labor of love, the V4B team is charging forward. Please support this relentless group of volunteers–who championed this cause from the start–to continue to provide relief, recovery and rebuilding assistance to the people of Puerto Rico!
STATUS: Veterans for Borinquen, Inc. is applying for federal 501(c)(3) public charity tax exemption with the IRS and operates as such. All donations will be retroactively tax exempted upon achieving public charity status. All donations will go to benefit victims of natural and man-made disasters and tragedies in Puerto Rico and will focus on the provision of assistance in support of response, relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts.
Acacia Network’s “Donate Ayuda Puerto Rico” Campaign
Acacia is a national multiagency network and the largest Puerto Rican non-profit organization in the U.S. with operations in Puerto Rico, They announced $1 million dollar donation for Puerto Rico relief. Acacia has committed a $1 million dollars to kick off the AyudaPuertoRico/DonatePuertoRico campaign and to request matching funds from other community organizations, government, and private entities. (This group has been endorsed by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies.)
Lin-Manuel Miranda – Hispanic Federation’s UNIDOS Disaster Relief Fund
Your tax-deductible donation to the Hispanic Federation will help some of Hurricane Maria’s most vulnerable victims recover from the storm. The Hispanic Federation is already facilitating the deployment of fully trained and certified first responders, including paying for the flight to Puerto Rico and the accompanying arrangements. These first responders—comprised of NYPD and FDNY members and others—will join relief efforts on the island and provide the technical support and expertise so badly needed. Relief efforts include everything from examining the structural integrity of buildings so individuals can safely return to their homes to providing basic supplies like food and clean water. MoveOn will cover 100% of the credit card expenses, so that more of your gift will go directly to those who need it most. The fund has already surpassed $1M.
To donate directly to the PR Hurricane Maria Relief Fund click here.
The Hispanic Federation’s UNIDOS Disaster Relief Fund page gives donors the option to donate for the Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria fund and/or the Mexico Earthquake fund via a drop-down menu. You can access this donation page by clicking here.
You can also donate by purchasing the song “Almost Like Praying” that Luis Manuel Miranda and a number of famous Latin American artists have produced as a fundraiser for the cause of Puerto Rico Relief. You can purchase the heartwarming song here. You can watch the music video here.
Ricky Martin’s Fundraiser
Singer and performer Ricky Martin established fundraiser – 100% of donations will go towards the cause of Puerto Rico’s hurricane relief. The fund has surpassed $3.9M. Click here to donate. The singer has been traveling to Puerto Rico personally to deliver supplies on a weekly basis since the disaster struck the island.
“Dear friends, Puerto Rico is going through one of the toughest times in history, and the island desperately need us. Hurricane Maria left devastating damage leaving thousands of people affected. For this reason, I decided to create this page to collect funds to provide the basic needs and rebuild all that was lost. My donation of $100,000 is already in, and I know I can count on your support. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your invaluable and much needed contribution. Peace, Ricky Martin”
Mano a Mano (“Hand to Hand”)
“In the aftermath of Maria’s devastation, “Mano a Mano Helping Puerto Rico” is helping to rebuild Puerto Rico quickly and efficiently. The organization is committed to serve the people suffering from lack of access to basic needs: food and water, “hand to hand” while providing a sense of hope and dignity in the process.” The organization is also focusing on medical needs and is supportive of other nonprofit organizations. Click here for their Facebook Page. Click here to donate. Contact via phone at 787-307-9888 or e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Foundation of Puerto Rico (Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico)
The Community Foundation of Puerto Rico is a grassroots organization that mobilizes local and international resources to support the growth of community organizations and nonprofits in Puerto Rico. The foundation is supported by organizations such as Ford Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, Rockefeller Foundation, and MacArthur Foundation– with a wide representation of Puerto Rican leadership. For more information call787-721-1037 or click here.
Puerto Rico for Puerto Rico (PRxPR)
This is an effort of PR leadership with the PR diaspora. The #PrxPR campaign will use 100% of the donations to the most affected communities.
GoFundMe has created a hub for Hurricane Maria donations. Click here for more information.
Bravo Family Foundation
The Bravo Family Foundation’s Podemos Puerto Rico campaign has committed $10M and is accepting additional funds. The foundation is committed to humanitarian, health care and education causes for talent
Central Florida Foundation -“Together for Puerto Rico: A Hurricane Recovery Fund”
With Orlando being the number one in-migration point for people from Puerto Rico, Central Florida Foundation realizes the effects of the storm and damages to infrastructure on our local community. The purpose of the “Together for Puerto Rico: A Hurricane Recovery Fund” is to provide a way for our community to respond now to support the medium to long term recovery and rebuilding efforts that face the government and nonprofits in Puerto Rico.
The fund will support these key areas:
1. Nonprofits and public-sector entities committed to restoring the island and supporting its citizens for the long haul
2. Vulnerable populations impacted by the storms
3. Gaps where public resources are unavailable
4. Promote leverage and cross-sector collaboration with government, donors, and public/private humanitarian partnerships
You can donate by clicking here.
Click here for more information on Central Florida Foundation.
Hunger Fight – Hurricane Relief Online Donations
Hunger Fight created campaigns for everyone to contribute at various impact levels. Click here to contribute online in one or more ways to feed those impacted by hurricanes Irma and Maria.
One America Appeal
One America Appeal is a joint fundraising effort by former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The campaign, first established to assist victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, has now added Hurricane Maria to its appeal for recovery relief.
The campaign will allow donors to contribute funds to United for Puerto Rico and The Fund for the Virgin Islands. Both are 501(c)(3) organizations. Donors can use the drop-down menu in the website’s donation section to direct their contribution.
Other organizations accepting cash donations:
- UNICEF – Puerto Rico Efforts
- Habitat for Humanity Puerto Rico
- Save the Children, which focuses specifically on the needs of families and their children.
- American Red Cross Puerto Rico Chapter
- Global Giving has a $2 million goal for victims of Hurricane Maria
- Puerto Rican Family Institute, Inc.
- Center for Popular Democracy
- All Hands Volunteers
- Catholic Relief Services
- Direct Relief
- Carmelo Anthony’s Fundraiser – Over $300K raised to date
- Salvation Army
Charity Navigator offers a summary and rates some of the charities that are participating in Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief.
PR Recovery Index offers a list of many fundraisers, including organizations, groups and individuals, requesting donations and support for a great variety of disaster relief initiatives.
Government Relief Funds
United for Puerto Rico: Together Changing Paths
United for Puerto Rico is an initiative brought forth by the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló, in collaboration with the private sector, with the purpose of providing aid and support to those affected in Puerto Rico by the passage of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane María. They have at least 17 corporate sponsors and have raised over $12M.
Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA)
PRFAA has established a call center to receive help for the island. Contact: (202) 800-3133 and (202) 800-3134 or email@example.com for general information and assistance. This contact is also a resource for locating family in the island. Click here for relief effort information.
In addition, PRFAA has formed regional groups to manage assistance from Puerto Ricans interested in contributing to the hurricane relief. These groups can be contacted via Facebook under “Puerto Rico Rises” and are organized by city name (e.g., Puerto Rico Rises Miami).
Vieques Love is a fundraiser GoFundMe campaign created by Kelly Thompson, editor and publisher of Vieques Insider Magazine, Szaritza Yamira, Disaster Relief Specialist and Long Term Recovery Project Manager (20 years with FEMA AND HUD), and Sharon Pepin, grant writer and administrator
The fund is being maintained by Kelly Thompson, editor and publisher of Vieques Insider Magazine, and Brittany Roush, Litigation Consultant and disaster relief coordinator for Vieques.
Click here to donate. They have raised over $957K to date.
The beautiful island of Culebra also has a fundraiser GoFundMe campaign created by local resident Laurie Knowlton. The campaign funds will be applied to rebuilding the infrastructure – for example, providing generators, solar power and accessories like lights and fans, small desalination kits for water, seedlings to restart farms for providing food, satellite phones, inverters and more.
Click here to donate. This fund has a goal of $25K of which $20K has been raised, so far.
nOTHER ONGOING EFFORTS
A List of Trusted Organizations Offering Help via “Los Ambulantes”
The Los Ambulantes page provides a comprehensive list of organizations. They are also keeping track of resources and status of the island recovery efforts.
NY Government – National Guard – Javits Center – JetBlue Alliance
The ongoing support efforts is managed through the website NY.Gov/PuertoRico. The site has information on relief initiatives, and volunteer and donation opportunities.
Center for Puerto Rican Studies – Donations page
Click here to learn about donation and contributions efforts listed by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies.
Running list in Google Docs for Dropoff Locations throughout the United States (Updated regularly)
For a running list in Google Docs of opportunities nation-wide, click here.
Help the Mapping Project
The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team is recruiting volunteers to map Puerto Rico and help the relief effort. They are also accepting donations and hiring. Click here for general information on how to contribute to the organization’s efforts. Click here for direct information about the Puerto Rico project.
“So far, 2,800 mappers have added over half a million buildings to the map in support of relief efforts led by organisations including International Red Cross and Red Crescent Federation, Netherlands Red Cross and MapAction. The maps are being used for rapid damage assessments to understand what level of aid needs to be sent to different locations, and how long the aid might be needed, for example temporary or more permanent shelter.”
“More than 1,500 roads and bridges were damaged after the hurricane, and Puerto Rico’s transportation chief noted than rebuilding them could cost $240 million. And while some supplies have arrived at the port in San Juan, there are conflicting reports about how much aid is reaching Puerto Rico’s more-isolated communities, where mapping data can be the most helpful.
The scale of the need is “sort of unprecedented,” said Dale Kunce, who is in Puerto Rico, leading the international information and communication technology and analytics teams at the Red Cross. “We normally don’t have the mappers engaged in this way in the United States.”
Thousands of people are trying to help, while sitting at their computers hundreds of miles away, logging a clear digital path for aid.”
LOGISTICS AND VOLUNTEERING IN PUERTO RICO
Logistics for Supplies
The government of Puerto Rico has also launched a guide for emergency and construction supplies donations. The Puerto Rico National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) is coordinating many of the donations here and the corporate giving here.
Volunteering in Puerto Rico
Opportunities to volunteer are be available through VOAD, where you can register to volunteer in support of hurricane relief in a diversity of locations. All VOAD organizations are vetted. In addition, there are many other organizations providing assistance in the island. *** See “Warning” below regarding vetting of individuals and organizations requesting funds and offering assistance. ***
The Puerto Rico Hurricane María Disaster Free Legal Aid Hotline is: 1-800-310-7029
This is a resource of pro-bono (free) attorneys who are available to help with issues related to the disaster, including FEMA assistance, SBA loans, housing, and other.
FINDING FAMILY MEMBERS – REPORTING EMERGENCIES
The following sites can assist in finding family members:
FEMA Zone Contact Map – provides contact names and numbers for FEMA regional offices in Puerto Rico
AT&T is helping link families and friends with loved ones in Puerto Rico. The company has set up a temporary website at ATT.com/mariaupdate/#/ in English and Spanish that allows you to register the AT&T cellphone number of loved ones in Puerto Rico to locate them. You can register regardless of carrier.
When AT&T’s network in Puerto Rico connects, the registered person will receive a message that someone in the mainland U.S. has been trying to contact them. It will also email you when the service is restored, so you can try to reach them again.
Also, there are various Facebook groups that have been created for Hurricane Maria news. Just type “Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico” on the search field, and they will come up. Among them:
There are also town-specific Facebook groups within the above groups.
Buscador de Puerto Rico
- This tool offers a breakdown by town. It is updated regularly.
*** Please be aware that – unfortunately – Facebook is often infiltrated by trolls, so be careful to not fall prey to fake and politicized news, “fake pages,” scammers and “fake people” trying to troll and/or take advantage of the disaster for their own agenda, personal or political profit during these difficult times. If something looks or sounds weird or fake, it is probably fake. Don’t fall for unverified disaster relief “personalities.” Check individuals and organizational backgrounds before contributing. ***
Resource Employment Solutions has joined forces with the National Puerto Rican Leadership Council Education Fund to offer employment opportunities to victims of Harvey/Irma/María workers. RES and NPRLCEF are working 24/7 to provide well paid temporarily and permanent jobs for them. For now, we have hundreds of open positions in Charlotte, Cincinnati and Chicago. In some cases we’ll help with transportation, lodging and other relocation expenses. The opportunities are not available in Florida yet. For more information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also visit USAJOBS.gov as there are openings government-wide. Particularly, the Department of Homeland Security/FEMA and the Small Business Administration (SBA) are hiring for open positions in hurricane relief areas.
Report U.S. citizens who need emergency assistance to the State Department through its Task Force Alert program. Go to http://tfa.state.gov and select “2017 Storm Maria.”
Standard emergency lines in Puerto Rico (some may not work)
Patient AirLift Services arranges volunteer medical flights in the greater Northeast region as far west as Ohio and as far south as Virginia. Patient flights originating or ending beyond our primary coverage area are conducted by our member pilots, or are coordinated with other organizations, to provide patients with a seamless travel itinerary. PALS arranges free air transportation services for people in need. PALS volunteer pilots bear all costs of each medical flight, including fuel, oil, landing fees, ramp fees and other expenses. Patients are not responsible for any air transportation costs, but may have responsibility for ground transportation. Click here more information.
PACIV Foundation is actively supporting hurricane victims with supplies, generators and airline travel. For more information call 787.721.5290 or click here.
Southwest has provisions for humanitarian cargo. For more information call 1-800-435-9792.
Guardians of Rescue
Guardians of Rescue is a New York-based organization that has helped animals affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. You can donate to this group here.
The Sato Project
The Sato Project is dedicated to rescuing abandoned and abused dogs from Puerto Rico. Our Founder has been working to make change on Dead Dog Beach for the past 8 years. Incorporated and an official 501(c)3 since 2011, we have rescued over 1,600 dogs, rehabilitated them to the highest veterinary standard possible, and found them loving homes. In 2016 we launched an ambitious Spay, Neuter, Vaccine, and Microchip program and are working to bring systemic change to Puerto Rico through education and partnerships on the Island.
GreaterGood.org is coordinating and facilitating the delivery of critical supplies and providing cash for animals and shelters affected by the storm in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. We are also working to fly in planes full of humanitarian supplies that will then transport abandoned pets to safety in the US to be adopted. By donating to the efforts of GreaterGood.org, you are providing safe transport, supplies, shelter, food, and other services to pets in need. An anonymous donor is currently matching donations dollar for dollar to $20,000 for animal relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Click here to donate.
Other Puerto Rico-based Animal Welfare Organizations – Fundraising Efforts
- PAWS Puerto Rico Animal Welfare Society
- Humane Society of Puerto Rico
- Vieques Humane Society and Animal Rescue, Inc.
- The Catman of Puerto Rico, Glen Venezio link to his Facebook page and PayPal
Also, check with your local humane societies and animal rescue organizations, as numerous dogs and cats have been arriving to shelters across the United States from Puerto Rico.
STATUS OF INFRASTRUCTURE RECOVERY
The Puerto Rico government is using the status.pr webpage to communicate information on the status of infrastructure and relief efforts.
DISASTER ASSISTANCE VIA FEMA
Click here to apply for disaster assistance from FEMA for those affected by hurricane Maria.
ASSISTANCE FOR PUERTO RICAN FAMILIES MOVING TO FLORIDA
Disaster Relief Centers at Florida Airports
The Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, has requested that disaster relief centers be established in Florida airports to offer help to incoming Puerto Ricans displaced by hurricane Maria. These centers will be attended with representatives of a variety of relief organizations, such as the Department of Health and the Department of Children and Families, along with charities such as the American Red Cross and United Way, among others. The goal is to match the needs of the displaced individuals and families with all the available state resources they may need, and that they are given the tools they need to find work, and/or education opportunities.
City of Orlando – Resource Page for Families Transitioning to Central Florida from Puerto Rico
The City of Orlando developed a web page listing a wide variety of resources to families transitioning to Central Florida from Puerto Rico. It contains a number of organizations that can directly assist newcomers, along with contact information. It is available in Spanish and in English.
The Puerto Rico Family Response Center (Centro de Ayuda) will establish an initial location at Latino Leadership’s headquarters in Central Florida. The office address is 8617 E. Colonial Drive, Suite 1200, Orlando, FL 32817. Current organizational offering at Latino Leadership include housing counseling, a 10-person computer lab, and special needs services, in addition to a robust referral services network. This Response Center will amplify the organization’s current commitment to enrichment services.
A team of qualified individuals will serve as the liaison between displaced families and community resources. FSHCC’s network of business members will serve as a vital resource for connecting evacuees with employment opportunities throughout the State. As US citizens, Puerto Ricans will be able to join Florida’s workforce upon arrival.
For volunteer and assistance information you can call 407-895-0801 or click here.
City of Orlando, Career Source and other sponsors and organizations are providing employment and other support for victims of Hurricane Maria. For more information click here.
ADOPT A FAMILY IN PUERTO RICO
This group matches Puerto Rican families in need with donors who wish to adopt them. Matching occurs based on need and capabilities/budget of donor. All donations are shipped directly to the families in Puerto Rico. This group never receives any of the donated items. The group creates a direct connection between donors and their adopted families. Click here for the group’s Facebook Page. Contact: email@example.com
If you would like to adopt a family, please click here to complete form.
If you are a family in need or know of a family in need residing in Puerto Rico, please click here to complete an informational form. Be as detailed as possible (include ages and sex of everyone in the household and any special needs) and include full mailing address including municipality & zip code.
EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR DISPLACED STUDENTS
Florida Virtual School (FLVS) will accept 20,000 Puerto Rican students who were impacted by Hurricane Maria to ensure they are able to continue their education. Whether students are still in Puerto Rico or in Florida, they can take advantage of this program. Displaced Puerto Rican families who are interested in signing up for Florida Virtual School should contact Liz Chico at (863) 606-8033.
State universities and colleges across Florida are now offering in-state tuition to Puerto Rican college students displaced by Hurricane Maria. These include, but are not limited to University of Central Florida, Seminole State College, Valencia College, Florida International University, Broward College, Miami-Dade College, St. Petersburg College, and Hillsborough Community College, among many others. Contact admissions in the state university of interest for more information.
Other universities throughout the US are offering similar programs for students displaced due to Hurricane Maria.
APPEAL TO CONGRESS FOR ASSISTANCE
Assistance has been deployed, but it is not enough. To avert a humanitarian disaster on the island, more attention from Congress is critical. Please call Congress and/or write to your representative and demand more attention to the need for increased Puerto Rico relief.
NOTE: The above information is provided for your reference only on a best-efforts basis. The organizations’ inclusion on this page does not constitute an endorsement by the author, except for Veterans for Borinquen, of which the author is an officer and director (See below.) Always conduct your own due-diligence before donating/contributing to any organization.
Disclaimer: The author is Chair of the Board of Directors and Vice President of Veterans for Borinquen, Inc.
This content is provided under a Creative Commons License