By Evan J. Cutts
Peabody, MA — In the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria communities across the nation, and in our very backyard rose to offer aid and support for their fellow citizens. One such group is North Shore MA for Puerto Rico (NSMAPR), a grassroots relief group created by Georgianna Meléndez with the support of the City of Peabody—which is hosting the relief donation page here.
Georgianna Meléndez, a Peabody resident of Puerto Rican descent, founded this initiative in October 2017 to mobilize community support in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria. Operated by an open Facebook group, Meléndez invites “anyone in the North Shore area to post about reliefs efforts they are involved in and for individuals looking to help to connect with our community.”
“Through our ‘Adopt-A-Box’ campaign, we are collecting packages including fun stuff for kids (coloring books, crayons, games, notebooks, toys), along with basic necessities (toiletries, non-perishable food, and juice boxes), and send them to Puerto Rico,” she said.
Each care package costs ~$18.90 to ship. Meléndez added that individuals looking to help can also continue to donate food and other needed supplies. “We ask that those interested send a message to our Facebook page to coordinate the details of the drop-off.”
NSMAPR has created partnerships with Dewey University and an outreach hospital in Manatí, Puerto Rico as well as with advocates based in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
In the short term, NSMAPR aims to raise enough funds to cover costs for existing donated care packages and medical supplies. The relief group will continue to organize for steady donations of food, medical supplies, toiletries, and funds until power is restored and basic support systems are fully functioning again.
To date, over $5000 has been raised and more than 350 care packages have been shipped to communities and relief organizations in Puerto Rico.
The relief group is also using social media to connect with various relief groups online to mobilize and direct aid.
“A list has been compiled via various Facebook pages where needs are expressed. We have received requests from individuals who are still without power more than six months later; from elderly individuals who cannot travel to the sites where donated food can be picked up; and from family members in Massachusetts who can’t afford to send much to families living in more remote locations,” she said.