SALT LAKE CITY — Local efforts to support those affected by the recent earthquake in Mexico and the hurricane in Puerto Rico have united people in Utah.
Without caring which religion they belong to, their origin or their language, people from all over the state participated in different efforts to help those countries.
For example, The Madeleine Choir School community, in less than 24 hours, filled a truck with non-perishable food items, clothes, cleaning supplies and toys for the locals in Mexico.
The effort was initiated by an anonymous parent who, with her own resources, rented the truck and drove it to places in Mexico where help was scattered or almost non-existent.
“It was amazing,” said Karla Padilla, the school’s advancement director. “I really was overwhelmed seeing the response of our kids. It showed just what a caring community we have, that they would be willing to help others and to bring all that they did in short amount of time, and to see how giving and how excited the kids were to be able to provide for others was amazing.”
Besides donating the items, the students organized and sorted them and loaded them into the truck. They also wrote notes such as “Jesus is with you” and “You are not alone” on the packages.
“It was beautiful to see our community coming together in a time of crisis,” Padilla said.
In another fundraiser, Catholics from many parishes gathered in the Centro Civico Mexicano for a festival in which all the proceeds were sent to the relief for Mexico and Puerto Rico.
“We decided to come and contribute a little and at the same time have fun with our kids,” said Veronica Balcazar, a parishioner of Our Lady of Guadalupe who went to the event.
Others, like Cathedral parishioner Margarita Dominguez, contributed by letting her child perform as part of the event’s entertainment.
“We love to cooperate for good causes, and what better way than to do it for our countries?” she said as she fixed her daughter’s hair minutes before she presented her dance.
Local Hispanic radio station La Gran D hosted a radiothon for the victims in both countries.
With the theme “Mexico, estamos Unidos (Mexico, we are united)” the radio station joined with the nonprofit Comunidades Unidas and local Spanish TV station Telemundo in collecting thousands of dollars for the cause.
“I came to donate and support this great effort,” said Mario Medina, who went in person to donate.
In the space of two weeks, Mexico suffered two major earthquakes that devastated many cities, causing hundreds of deaths and destruction that will take months, if not years, to overcome.
The epicenter of the Sept. 8 magnitude 8.1 quake, which was felt as far as Mexico City and Guatemala City, registered off of Mexico’s southern coast just as heavy rains from Hurricane Katia hit the country’s east coast.
Then, on Sept. 19, a 7.1 earthquake struck Mexico City, Morelos and Puebla. Hundreds of people were killed, and the damage is estimated in the billions of dollars.
Most of the island of Puerto Rico continues to be without power and clean water after Hurricane Maria slammed it on Sept. 20. The Category 4 hurricane pummeled the island with rain and winds of more than 150 mph for more than 30 hours.
Editor’s note: Catholic Relief Services is providing relief to those affected by both disasters. To give online for efforts in Mexico, visit crs.org/mexicoquake.
To give online for efforts in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, visit app.mobilecause.com/vf/CCUSADISASTER.
The USCCB has set up funds for both disasters to receive any contributions that dioceses and parishes wish to make. Contributions will be used to support the reconstruction and pastoral needs of the Church as well as humanitarian and recovery assistance through Catholic Charities USA (Hurricane Maria) and Catholic Relief Services (Mexico earthquakes).
For information, call 202-541-3346 or visit usccb.org/nationalcollections.