Crowley employees gather 54,000 pounds of supplies to send to Puerto Rico

Island devastated by Hurricane Maria

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is devastated, and the island needs to almost completely rebuild.

Immediate needs for people include such basic items as food and water. People also need toiletries and clothing.

Crowley Maritime is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide relief.

On Friday, Crowley employees jumped at the chance to help out. It’s personal for a company with 300 workers in Puerto Rico, and it’s emotional for employees who have family and friends there. 

The call to action went out midweek, and by Friday afternoon, a room at Crowley’s Regency headquarters was filled with employees doing something productive for the people of Puerto Rico.

"My family is still there," Wanda Gordon said. "Most of my friends are still there. You know, it's where I'm from, so it means everything to me." 

Gordon and Freddy Fantauzzi are two of the Crowley employees who were helping load a container headed for their homeland.

"On the island, it's devastated. So they need anything they can get their hands on," Fantauzzi said. "For me, it's got a very special meaning." 

Crowley Maritime has been working to deliver products to the island that Hurricane Maria tried to wipe out.

The company is transporting 100 fuel distribution trucks, 275,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 75 gallons of gasoline. That’s on top of the barges that have delivered containers to the port.

RELATED: Crowley Maritime sends much-needed supplies to Puerto Rico

Now, volunteers are giving big from their own pockets to help their co-workers and anyone who needs it.

"Our expectations were all over the board, and once we continue to hear how energized and excited employees were to participate in this type of program, we knew it was going to get bigger. So we got more people involved, more labor and a bigger container to ship those supplies," said Katy Keen, manager of Employee Health and Wellbeing at Crowley.

Crowley anticipated about 100 or 150 plastic bins, filled with toiletries, clothing, battery-operated devices and other supplies. 

Instead, Gordon, Fantauzzi and their colleagues filled a 40-foot container and then a 54-foot container with about 400 bins containing about 54,000 pounds of supplies.

"Just being able to do this directly to the people -- you know what they need," Fantauzzi said. "I brought in, I think, probably 28 to 30 bins between my wife and I with the help of friends, people chipping in. So it's been a hectic week, but rewarding nonetheless."

It will make a difference to the people of Puerto Rico, and make a difference to the people at Crowley.

"It's not a good feeling, but it feels better today," Gordon said. "I've been pretty stressed, but I feel more calm today. Once I saw my buckets in the truck, you actually feel accomplished, like, 'Oh, actually something is going to happen.'"

Gordon said she's worried about her grandmother, who is more than 90 years old. 

Fantauzzi said his children live in Puerto Rico, along with his in-laws.

The shipment will go out Monday. The trip to Puerto Rico will take a week.

If anyone else would like to donate or send something to Puerto Rico, visit www.crowley.com/Relief.

About the Author: