By Tim Harfmann
Juan Rodriguez spearheaded the donation drive at Queen of Angels Church in Sunnyside, Queens, to help those suffering from the series of powerful earthquakes that hit the island.
He went door-to-door and called other churches to get them on board the campaign, resulting in an outpouring of support from Catholics in Queens, New York.
“They felt the suffering and the pain that the people of Puerto Rico have been going through,” Juan explained.
Though Juan is no longer accepting donations, there’s a lot of packing to do to make sure items like peanut butter and canned goods make it to the people of Puerto Rico.
Thousands of people are still displaced.
Juan described what one friend on the island is going through, saying, “in his own experience, people have faith. Things are going to get better, but you’d be surprised the tremors and earthquakes can test your faith.”
Faith on the island also seemed tested after emergency hurricane aid was discovered in warehouses, two years after Hurricane Maria came ashore.
Juan felt that made some Catholics in Queens hesitant this time around.
“They were afraid,” he said. “They felt that if it’s going to be put into a warehouse, then nobody is going to look at it.”
Now, he’s focused on getting the items into the right hands.
“We’re discussing and trying to network with different groups to make sure that these items get taken to particular churches that could help support the people,” he said.
Meanwhile, the House approved over $4.5 billion dollars in disaster relief. President Trump is threatening to veto the bill.