How To Help Ecuadorian Earthquake Survivors From Brooklyn

How To Help Ecuadorian Earthquake Survivors From Brooklyn
Image via .
Image via Flickr.

You may have already heard about the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake that ripped through Ecuador on April 16, leaving at least 480 people dead, 231 people missing, and more than 4,000 people injured.

Since Bensonhurst and Sunset Park are home to a large Ecuadorian population, many of our neighbors and their families may be personally impacted by the tragedy. But what can we do on the ground in Brooklyn to help our friends, neighbors and loved ones thousands of miles away?

There are five Brooklyn organizations working closely with the office of the Ecuadorian consulate general in New York, including two in Sunset Park and one in Park Slope (the others are in Cypress Hills and Bushwick). They are:

“We just started today, and people are dropping things off slowly,” said Jose Roccano, who works at Express II Car Service. “We’re open 24/7 and are collecting until they tell us to stop. Most of our families are okay, but people are trying to help each other.”

Image via Flickr.
Image via Flickr

While many churches with large Ecuadorian populations — such as Saint Dominic’s Roman Catholic Church in Bensonhurst, and Sunset Park’s Church of the Redeemer and Trinity Lutheran Church — are organizing their own food and clothing drives, Roccano recommended people donate to Consulate-approved organizations.

Donations have already begun to pour into the United Senior Center of Sunset Park and The Spot Bar, where “somebody already donated 40 gallons of water,” said Ricky Nacipucha, Spot’s co-owner, who is also Ecuadorian and fortunately has family who are safe. “We’re so sad about this and asked what can we do? Well we have business and it feels good to do something.”

Grisel Amador of the United Senior Center of Sunset Park with some of the donations collected thus far for Ecuador earthquake relief. (Photo courtesy of Grisel Amador)
Grisel Amador of the United Senior Center of Sunset Park with some of the donations collected thus far for Ecuador earthquake relief. (Photo courtesy of Grisel Amador)

Other items needed, according to Grisel Amador, executive director of the senior center, are:

  • hygiene products: soap, deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrushes, Kotex menstrual pads and linings
  • food: canned food, meat, and milk
  • miscellany: plastic garbage bags, and, by “special request,” dry food for dogs and cats.

The senior center will be open from 8am-3pm each weekday and Spot Bar will be open daily from 4:30pm to midnight or 1am.

Several community fundraisers are also being planned. At Spot Bar, a dance party will kick off at 9pm on Saturday, April 23, with 25 percent of sales going to rebuilding efforts.

Image courtesy of Trinity Lutheran Church.
Image courtesy of Trinity Lutheran Church.

Trinity Lutheran Church (411 46th Street), which has organized missions to Ecuador in the past to build houses, is also collecting hygiene kits and planning a Zumba-thon dance fundraiser this Friday, April 22 at 8pm.

And once the pastor (and his wife) of the Church of the Redeemer at 48th and 7th Avenue returns home tonight from their trip to Ecuador — they were there when the earthquake hit — more efforts to support family and friends will be planned.

“The quake was terrible, aftershocks just as great, and terrible devastation,” said church elder Barbara Pimentel, who is also executive assistant to the pastor at Trinity Lutheran. “One or two in the congregation still have not heard from their family.”

Reporting contributed by Rachel Silberstein.

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