BUSHWICK – The North Brooklyn community is rallying to help those affected by Hurricane Irma, holding a relief drive that is running through the weekend and ending Tuesday, September 26.
The group is accepting donations of socks, bug spray, hygiene products, baby formula, diapers and snacks to be sent to Florida communities, along with monetary donations.
With the wave of natural disasters in the last few weeks, Assembly Member Maritza Davila had been planning a drive for two weeks, said a representative from her office, partnering with local community groups to create a united North Brooklyn drive.
When Hurricane Irma hit, they realized they could do the most with their donations by sending aid to Florida. Once the drive was announced, phones were ringing all day in the Assemblywoman’s office, as members of the North Brooklyn community called to figure out how to help or where to donate.
“It’s great to see the communities of Williamsburg and Bushwick coming together for a great cause and to help others in desperate need,” said Assembly Member Davila. “I want to thank everyone for their generosity and encourage more people to participate for this noble cause.”
On October 2, Pastor Jason Ayala of TENT Ministries will head to Florida, hand-delivering the collections and staying on to oversee organization and distribution.
In conjunction with churches in Ft. Myers and Naples, Florida, Ayala hopes to reach out to those stuck in trailer parks that FEMA hasn’t even reached yet, he said.
Born and raised in Bushwick, Pastor Jason has experience responding to natural disasters through work with Operation Blessing and Hurricane Sandy relief. That experience is what drove him to go to Florida personally, he said, instead of just handing off the donations to a larger organization.
“I put together the specific list [for donations] because I know what’s really needed down there,” said Ayala.
Ayala praised the North Brooklyn community’s response to the disaster. “North Brooklyn has a lot of family members down there,” he said, “But we extend our connections to everyone and come together as one big family.”
As the Caribbean continues to get hit by hurricanes, local organizations are ready to continue their efforts. Assembly Member Davila’s office is already discussing how respond to those affected by Hurricane Maria and how to do more.
Pastor Jason is confident that the community is only getting started. “We’ve got even bigger plans for Puerto Rico,” he said.
Donations can be made at the following locations through Tuesday, September 2: