Guam student starts donation drive to help Puerto Ricans affected by storms
By LEON COOK | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 12, 2017
After Hurricane Maria cut a path of devastation through the Caribbean, a 13-year-old boy at a Defense Department school on Guam decided to make a difference.
Maria, which is among the most intense Atlantic hurricanes on record, landed on Sept. 20 in Puerto Rico while the island was still recovering from Hurricane Irma two weeks prior. The Category 5 storms killed dozens on the island, and a United Nations envoy recently reported that 10 of 78 municipalities are still without power and thousands of businesses remain closed.
Days after Maria’s arrival, Isaac Feliciano, an eighth-grader at Naval Base Guam’s Commander William C. McCool Elementary and Middle School, was worried about family members in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, where he and his parents lived before his father’s duties as an Air Force recruiter brought them to Guam earlier this year.
“I wanted to help our family, but also other families that didn’t have anything left,” Feliciano told Stars and Stripes during a recent telephone interview.
As vice president of McCool’s National Junior Honor Society chapter, Feliciano suggested a donation drive for the hurricane victims.
“I took it to our membership and brought it to a vote and it was unanimous,” said Linda Serrano, faculty adviser to the Honor Society. “We all thought it was a great idea. The school supported the drive 100 percent.”
Classrooms set up boxes so students could donate, said Yamil Feliciano, Isaac’s mother.
Members of the Honor Society, including Isaac’s younger sister Yadinette, divided the items into 38 aid boxes. Each contained a week’s worth of food and toiletries for one family, she said. The boxes, which were mailed from last month through earlier this week, also contain messages in Spanish wishing the families well.
“Puerto Ricans are strong, resilient people,” Yadinette said. “Even though the lights are off, that will not dim our spirit because the light will always shine in our hearts.”
“Puerto Rico se levanta,” she added, which means, “Puerto Rico will rise.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.