The Puerto Rican Agenda in Chicago launched a fundraising campaign, Pallets and Planes, to provide immediate relief to those affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico with a successful benefit show on Friday, September 22 at Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center. The Puerto Rican Agenda is mobilizing resources to fill additional airplanes with critical resources. Donate to the Puerto Rican Agenda’s Pallets to Planes campaign by contributing to the Hurricane Relief Fund HERE.
The signature strategy of the Pallets and Planes campaign is to ensure the greatest impact of donations through the most effective methods in a short timeframe. Each monetary donation contributes to a relief fund used to purchase pallets of emergency supplies pre-packaged according to federal shipping regulations directly from warehouses. Shipments are personally received by municipal leadership in Puerto Rico for immediate distribution across the island. All efforts are volunteer-run with no individuals receiving monetary gains.
Within 48 hours of the campaign launch, members of the Puerto Rican Agenda raised nearly $70,000, assessed the immediate needs on the island, purchased pallets of emergency supplies, secured transportation courtesy of Custom Trucking Company, and loaded a cargo plane underwritten by United Airlines.
Supplies arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Monday, September 25—less than five days after Hurricane Maria made landfall on the island as a Category 4 hurricane. The airplane then turned around and transported 300 evacuees from Puerto Rico multiplying the impact of Pallets and Planes donors.
Fueled completely by volunteers with contributions from Chicago’s Puerto Rican community and allies, the grassroots effort was bolstered by the support of civic leaders including Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez and Mayor Rahm Emanuel who coordinated the transportation logistics for the first flight, and Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz who received the shipment for distribution to the hardest hit areas including hospitals and safety centers around the island.
The Puerto Rican Agenda continues to expand partnerships and collaborated with New Life Covenant to secure a second airplane loaded with supplies and generators on Wednesday, September 27. The shipment will be delivered by a cargo plane underwritten by United Airlines and with the support of Governor Bruce Rauner.
On Thursday, October 19 the Pallets and Planes campaign shifts strategy by stimulating the local economy. Instead of purchasing pallets in Chicago, the Puerto Rican Agenda has partnered with Supermercados Econo and Sam’s Club in Puerto Rico to purchase and distribute pallets to some of the hardest-hit towns on the island. Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez will personally deliver $60,000 worth of emergency supplies to Comerio on October 19 and Loiza on October 20 through working directly with their respective mayors. Additionally, Aibonito and Barranquitas will receive $30,000 worth of supplies on Saturday, October 21.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
FAQ 1: How can I donate to the Puerto Rican Agenda Hurricane relief fund?
Answer: You can make a monetary donation by clicking HERE.
FAQ 2: Who can checks be made out to and where can checks be mailed/dropped off to?
Checks can be made payable: The Puerto Rican Relief Fund
The Puerto Rican Agenda of Chicago
FAQ 3: Are monetary donations tax-deductible?
Answer: Yes, The Puerto Rican Agenda is a non-profit organization, however, the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center (501c3) is serving as fiscal agent for the Pallets and Planes campaign.
FAQ 4: Are you accepting items for donation such as water, diapers, batteries, etc.?
Answer: No, we are currently not accepting material donations for the following reasons:
- We do not have the capacity or space to accept donations.
- We want to apply monetary donations towards the greatest impact, most effective use, and in a short time frame by not incurring shipping costs or spending time sorting and packaging supplies.
- We purchase supplies (based on requests from receiving towns) directly from wholesale outlets and packaged according to federal shipping regulations.
FAQ 5: How were the items sent to Puerto Rico for the first two flights?
Answer: After purchasing pallets of supplies directly from wholesale outlets, they are transported by trucks underwritten by The Custom Companies, Inc and delivered to O’Hare International Airport for departure on a donated airplane from United Airlines and bound for San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz personally receives items and directs them for distribution to shelters, hospitals, and safety centers throughout the island. The first airplane stocked by Pallets and Planes returned back to Chicago with 300 passengers who were stranded in Puerto Rico. It was the first flight since Hurricane Maria made landfall to return to Chicago through this effort thus multiplying the impact of each monetary donation.
FAQ 6: Where in Puerto Rico will the next round of donations be sent?
Answer: The Puerto Rican Agenda is in communication with several municipalities in Puerto Rico to assess their ability to receive and distribute. On Thursday, October 19 the Pallets and Planes campaign shifts strategy by stimulating the local economy. Instead of purchasing pallets in Chicago, the Puerto Rican Agenda has partnered with Supermercados Econo and Sam’s Club in Puerto Rico to purchase and distribute pallets to some of the hardest-hit towns on the island. Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez will personally deliver $60,000 worth of emergency supplies to Comerio on October 19 and Loiza on October 20 through working directly with their respective mayors. Additionally, Aibonito and Barranquitas will receive $30,000 worth of supplies on Saturday, October 21.
FAQ 7: Who can I trust to drop off my donations at in Chicago?
Answer: Visit our “Recommended Donation Sites” page here for suggestions.
FAQ 8: How can I volunteer with the hurricane relief efforts?
Answer: Fill out a volunteer inquiry form here to indicate your availability, skills, and interest. You will be contacted on an as needed basis.
FAQ 9: How do I become involved with the Puerto Rican Agenda?
Answer: Follow us on Facebook for the latest campaign updates, invitations to our monthly meetings, events and initiatives.