LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – A group of native Puerto Ricans in Arkansas came together outside a Little Rock fire house to collect donations for family and others affected by hurricanes.
Jessica Cruz is the first female Latina firefighter in Little Rock, so she decided to use her platform to full advantage.
“I knew this would be a way to get more attention to us getting donations and things like that," Cruz said.
For people like Cruz who have family in Puerto Rico, giving back is the best they can do for now.
"My grandfather and a few cousins and Aunts live over there," she said. “We hadn't heard from them. So, we don't know what's going on or even if they are okay."
Izzy Santiago-Toledo helped put together Sunday’s donation center, and she said every little bit helps.
“[We need] Flashlights, batteries, citronella candles, mosquito nettings,” Toledo said. "We don't know if they have basic necessities such as food, water, electricity.”
Toledo also said water is the number one need as of now.
“A case of water at a local grocery store was $10.49. Can you imagine paying that much for a case of water?" she said.
Romon Cendron Dorres just came back from Puerto Rico and said the people there desperately need assistance.
"The whole island was devastated from the hurricane. And only seeing it firsthand can you really understand the destruction,” Dorres said. “Despite the fact that the government says that there is food and fuel and water, it's not reaching the people across the island as quickly as needed.”
So, he said people should continue to keep Puerto Rico in their minds.
“What is happening here in Little rock is one of the perfect things to do, to bring items and help," he said.
Although Puerto Rico is thousands of miles away, Arkansas Puerto Ricans will continue to support those back home.
"Even the people I don't know in Puerto Rico, they're our family. We're going to do whatever we can to get the necessary donation that we can to Puerto Rico," Cruz said. “We’re Americans. We are part of the U.S.”
This was the third time the group gathered this week to collect donations. The donations will be taken from a storage unit to the Little Rock Air Force Base where they will then be loaded onto a C-130 to be taken to Puerto Rico.