MetroHealth Employees Lead Efforts to Get 500,000 Pounds of Supplies Shipped to Puerto Rico
The crowd gathered in the I-X Center today for a press conference wasn't as large as ones that usually flock there for conventions. But the small group was celebrating something just as big. 500,000 pounds big, in fact.
Volunteers, local residents and community partners around Cleveland have collected, organized and now shipped more than 250 tons of relief supplies to Puerto Rico. The U.S. territory is still struggling to recover after Hurricane Maria decimated much of the island's infrastructure in late September.
"The unity of community goes to show what we can do if we stick together," MetroHealth employee Margie Colon said, through joyful tears. "This was from the heart - an effort of humanity."
Gathering the supplies was one Herculean task. But the biggest challenge was figuring out what to do next. After the I-X Center agreed to host the more than 450 pallets of food, water and personal care items, Colon and her partners in Northeastern Ohio's Puerto Rican community were still searching for a way to move them from Cleveland to the Caribbean. They needed a way to ship the supplies quickly and reliably to those who need them most.
Working with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, they connected with Feeding America, a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks and support agencies. Over the course of several weeks, they worked out all the logistics, timing and details with Feeding America to ensure the supplies are delivered.
All told, almost 10 full semi-trucks will be needed to move the donations from Cleveland to Georgia. From there, they'll travel to Florida, get loaded on to boats, and make the short sea journey to their final destination. Once the supplies arrive on the island, they'll be distributed to churches, food banks and communities in need across Puerto Rico.