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Local organizations offer relief to Puerto Rico

Two groups partner to host fundraiser for hurricane relief

VANCOUVER — In the wake of a hurricane season that devastated parts of the Caribbean, two Clark County organizations have teamed up to provide relief efforts for the town of Corozal in Puerto Rico.

The local nonprofit Youth 4 Vets has joined with the Southwest Washington League of United Latin American Citizens Council #47013 (LULAC) to host a fundraiser on Fri., Dec. 15 in Vancouver. All proceeds from the fundraiser will be used to purchase supplies for residents in Corozal.

The town of Corozal, Puerto Rico, suffered heavy damage after Hurricane Maria struck the island in September. On Friday, the organizations Youth 4 Vets and the League of United Latin American Citizens will host a fundraiser to help pay for basic necessities and supplies for the town of Corozal. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Collazo-Serrano/Youth 4 Vets
The town of Corozal, Puerto Rico, suffered heavy damage after Hurricane Maria struck the island in September. On Friday, the organizations Youth 4 Vets and the League of United Latin American Citizens will host a fundraiser to help pay for basic necessities and supplies for the town of Corozal. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Collazo-Serrano/Youth 4 Vets

Youth 4 Vets is a local nonprofit that is designed to “support, serve and give back to our veterans, their families and the military organizations” in the area, according to Stephanie Collazo-Serrano, president of Youth 4 Vets.

LULAC has had a council in southwest Washington since 2011, but it is only one of over 1000 councils in the country that are dedicated to serving Latinos on policy issues such as veterans issues, education, healthcare and immigration, according to Carmen McKibben, the council president for the organization’s local chapter.

With the impacts of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico in September, both groups had been searching for ways to provide assistance. Collazo-Serrano said that one of the board members of the Youth 4 Vets organization is from Puerto Rico, and the organization decided to adopt his hometown of Corozal to provide aid.

The Puerto Rican town of Corozal suffered heavy damage to its infrastructure after Hurricane Maria made landfall in September. Efforts are still ongoing to rebuild the town, and the local groups Youth 4 Vets and the League of United Latin American Citizens have partnered to adopt the town and provide relief efforts. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Collazo-Serrano/Youth 4 Vets
The Puerto Rican town of Corozal suffered heavy damage to its infrastructure after Hurricane Maria made landfall in September. Efforts are still ongoing to rebuild the town, and the local groups Youth 4 Vets and the League of United Latin American Citizens have partnered to adopt the town and provide relief efforts. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Collazo-Serrano/Youth 4 Vets

LULAC had also been looking for a way to help, and decided to partner with Youth 4 Vets in adopting Corozal. Puerto Rico, a United States territory, has one of the largest per capita populations of veterans, Collazo-Serrano said. “We need to help our brothers and sisters over there,” she explained.

The decision of the two organizations to partner on relief efforts “just naturally happened,” Collazo-Serrano said.

Corozal is a mountain town near the center of the island of Puerto Rico, and as such much of its infrastructure was damaged due to mudslides, Collazo-Serrano said. Due to its location, the infrastructure damage has made access to the town difficult.

The fundraiser will help buy basic necessities such as bottled water, canned food, fuel for generators, and personal hygiene products. Collazo-Serrano said that many people in the town are still collecting water in buckets to use, and that most has to be boiled or filtered to be safe to drink.

In addition, many homes are being powered by generators due to a lack of electricity, but often only at night. This can create additional health problems for people who rely on medical equipment that must be powered with electricity, Collazo-Serrano explained.

Corozal, Puerto Rico, is a mountain town, and therefore has suffered from mudslides in the wake of September’s Hurricane Maria. Relief efforts are ongoing, and include a local fundraiser to help raise money to purchase and distribute supplies to residents in Corozal. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Collazo-Serrano/Youth 4 Vets
Corozal, Puerto Rico, is a mountain town, and therefore has suffered from mudslides in the wake of September’s Hurricane Maria. Relief efforts are ongoing, and include a local fundraiser to help raise money to purchase and distribute supplies to residents in Corozal. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Collazo-Serrano/Youth 4 Vets

McKibben said that “it is urgent” to provide aid to Puerto Rico, and that in some cases residents have had to choose between obtaining food or toilet paper for their families.

Youth 4 Vets has arranged to send a representative to Corozal in the first week of January to ensure that the donations received are being used as intended. All supplies will be purchased in Puerto Rico, and much of the process, from purchase to distribution, will be filmed, Collazo-Serrano said.

The organization has already coordinated with the mayor of Corozal to plan the logistics of the distribution.

“It’s coming from our hearts,” Collazo-Serrano said. “Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States and very much needs our help.”

The Boots on the Ground for Puerto Rico Dinner & Auction Fundraiser is scheduled to occur on Fri., Dec. 15 at the 40 & 8, located at 7607 NE 26th Avenue, Vancouver, WA. It will run from 5 – 9 p.m., and feature dinner as well as live and silent auctions. Tickets are $40 per person.

Collazo-Serrano said that there are still business sponsor positions available, and volunteers are still needed for the event itself.

In addition to the fundraiser, Youth 4 Vets is accepting donations on its website.

More information can be found online at https://youth4vets.org/, or on the Youth 4 Vets Facebook page.

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About The Author

Alex Peru

Alex Peru is a 2017 graduate of Washington State University Vancouver. He has a bachelor’s degree in History and a double minor in Political Science and Business Administration. Peru grew up in Battle Ground, and graduated from CAM Academy in 2013. He worked for The VanCougar, WSU Vancouver’s campus newspaper, for three years, including one year as the editor-in-chief. When not working, Peru enjoys reading books about history, working on cars and enjoying the outdoors in Clark County’s beautiful rivers, lakes and forests.

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