Volunteers pack 130K meals for Puerto Rico hurricane relief

Jacksonville companies join Hunger Fight to send aid to storm-ravaged island

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - About 100 volunteers came together Saturday to pack thousands of meals to send to Puerto Rico as the U.S. territory is just beginning to recover from Hurricane Maria. 

Jennifer Ortiz’s father, brother and other loved ones live in Puerto Rico and were impacted by the storm that ravaged the Caribbean island. She can’t get there, so she felt relieved that she could help from Jacksonville.

“I have my heart thinking about all of the people there suffering there,” Ortiz said as she helped pack pounds of noodles for macaroni and cheese, along with other volunteers. “You have macaroni, you have the seasoning, and then you have the nutritional portioning of it as well.”

Her company, Caribbean Shipping, and Aviles-Robbins Truck Leasing teamed up with the local nonprofit Hunger Fight to raise $30,000 for 130,000 meals -- all packed with love Saturday by the hands of strangers working together.

The meals will be loaded onto a semitruck and then eventually shipped to Puerto Rico 
Each production team rang a cowbell after a case full of meals was completed for shipping. 

“I’ve never met these wonderful people, but I’m very happy that they were able to make it today,” Ortiz said. “Everybody putting a little grain of macaroni can get this done.”

Ortiz said a catastrophic event can affect anyone at any time, and she hopes people will consider donating to Puerto Rico hurricane relief, whether it's with food, water or money. 

Ortiz said another Puerto Rico relief event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at Impact Church at 8985 Lone Star Road in the Arlington area of Jacksonville. 

People can come by and donate hygiene or food items, water or baby items. They also can help pack up donations or after noon can help with clean up.

To donate to the relief efforts, go to https://give.classy.org/hurricanedisasterrelief.

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