In the time since Hurricane Irma battered Florida and the Caribbean, and with Hurricane Maria leaving many in Puerto Rico displaced and without power and water, volunteer groups have stepped in to help those most in need.
Below are a dozen South Florida organizations helping to bring relief in the form of supply drives, donations, immediate and long-term assistance to those who lost everything. Through chartered flights, they’re bringing in donated goods, and bringing out people displaced by the storms.
In the spirit of this year’s “Giving section,” you’ll find ways to help, whether it be through monetary donations, or through volunteering, provided in each of the organization’s profiles.
Group: Farm Share
Who they are: The 27-year-old Homestead-based nonprofit gathers surplus produce from local farmers and donates it to local, regional and statewide soup kitchens, homeless shelters, food banks, and churches.
What they’re doing/have done: Within 10 days after Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida, Farm Share distributed more than 2 million pounds of food and supplies throughout the state. Feeding South Florida, another longstanding nonprofit, also rescues millions of pounds of food per year and distributes it to local communities in need. (www.feedingsouthflorida.org).
How to get involved: Volunteer packing or distributing produce at Farm Share’s packing center (14125 SW 320th St., Homestead, 33033). Give $10 and 100 pounds of food will be donated.
Contact: email@example.com; 305-246-FARM (3276); www.farmshare.org;
Group: Global Empowerment Mission (GEM)
Who they are: When tragedy strikes, this Miami-based nonprofit steps in. They provide emergency relief in the U.S. and abroad. When the earthquake in Haiti struck in 2010, GEM brought firefighters, nurses and other emergency responders to assist victims.
What they’re doing/have done: They manage three warehouses (one is in Wynwood), to gather and sort supplies for people living in areas in the U.S. and the Caribbean affected by storms. They’ve sent 40 planes with relief aid to Puerto Rico and supplies via a large ship to several Caribbean islands following Hurricane Maria.
How to get involved: Visit GEM’s website to make a donation or to volunteer.
Group: The Miami Foundation
Who they are: For 50 years, the foundation has invested funds from donors into the Greater Miami community, whether through supporting local nonprofits or through on-the-ground assistance to Miami’s most vulnerable residents.
What they’re doing/have done: The Miami Foundation has several hurricane relief funds. The Irma Community Recovery Fund helps Miami’s marginalized communities with basic and critical necessities, while the U.S. Caribbean Strong Relief Fund, supports relief efforts in the Caribbean island nations. To date, they’ve raised over $5.26 million for hurricane relief across several funds benefiting local and regional recovery efforts.
How to get involved: Donate here: https://give.miamifoundation.org/givenow
Group: Operation Helping Hands
Who they are: Operation Helping Hands, is a partnership between United Way of Miami-Dade, the Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald, Univision 23 and JCS Switchboard to help those affected by natural disasters and emergencies.
What they’re doing/have done: United Way of Miami-Dade issued its first round of grants to nonprofits totaling $1,271,663, to aid those affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the earthquake in Mexico. An initial grant of $530,000 helped those in Miami, with rent/mortgage assistance, utilities, food, medicine after Hurricane Irma.
How to get involved: Volunteer, donate online, or start a campaign to raise funds.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 305- 860-3000; unitedwaymiami.org;
Group: The FIU Foundation’s Disaster Response and Recovery Fund
Who they are: This #FIUstrong initiative, helps visiting students from the Caribbean who were displaced by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, receive discounted tuition at FIU, along with transportation, housing in the dorms, food assistance, and job placement.
What they’re doing/have done: Through fundraising via hurricane relief concerts and a $350,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, the foundation provides education on a temporary basis to those who fled the Caribbean in the aftermath of the storms, and gives individual aid packages to visiting students in need. Currently, FIU has received over 700 applications from people from Puerto Rico.
How to get involved: Donate to: https://fiustrong.fiu.edu/give-now/
Group: The Florida Keys Emergency Relief Fund (via the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys)
Who they are: The relief organization aims to enhance to quality of life for the Keys’ residents and works with local nonprofits to provide relief and long-term recovery to residents affected by disasters or emergencies.
What they’re doing/have done: Current donations help those affected by Hurricane Irma in the form of rent and housing needs, repairs, appliances, transportation needs, medical care, childcare, and supplies. They’ve raised over $500,000 so far, with more donations coming in. After Hurricane Wilma struck in 2005, they raised $1.3 million in recovery efforts.
How to get involved: Donate, volunteer, or host an event to benefit the Relief Fund.
Group: The Crisis Relief Team
Who they are: Groups of volunteers who helped those in need after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. This tough group does emergency search and rescue, supply distribution, roof tarping, clears trees and debris, and uses drones to assess roof damage and gather critical data to help residents. They’re currently concentrating their efforts to assist those in the Florida Keys and Puerto Rico.
How to get involved: Visit their website to volunteer or donate.
Group: United Way of the Florida Keys
What they’re doing/have done: Their Irma Relief Fund distributed nearly $400,000 to smaller nonprofits in the Keys for hurricane recovery and rebuilding efforts. Another $80,000 in mini-grants were distributed to 16 partner agencies, including the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition and Star of the Sea Mission Outreach.
How to get involved: Volunteer, or donate to their “wish list”: http://www.keysunitedway.org/wish-list
Contact: email@example.com; 305-735-1929;
Group: Operation Puerto Rico Care-Lift
Who they are: Founded in part by the Discovery Channel’s marketing director, Lara Richardson, who attended school in Puerto Rico, the grassroots hurricane relief effort brings supplies to the most devastated regions of Puerto Rico, through partnerships with Spirit Airlines and Lufthansa Technik, as well as distribution networks on the ground.
What they're doing/have done: To date, the effort has delivered 100,000 pounds of supplies, raised over $225,000, and evacuated over 500 people from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, via Spirit flights, free of charge. Phase 2 is Operation Puerto Rico Holiday Gift-Lift, which will transport toys and other items for children over the holidays via Spirit Airlines.
How to get involved: For the gift program, go to https://www.gofundme.com/operation-puerto-rico-giftlift
Contact: Chris Sloan / PRCareLift@gmail.com; 305-672-8229
Group: The Puerto Rican Leadership Council of South Florida
What they’re doing/have done: The Puerto Rican Leadership Council and the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce of South Florida have held (separate) hurricane relief drives for Puerto Rico. They now work to help Puerto Ricans arriving to Miami with resources and information regarding medical care, housing, and other needs.
Contact: Luis De Rosa at firstname.lastname@example.org; 305-571-8006.
Group: Puerto Rico Rising
Who they are: This “grassroots movement by Puertorriqueños” living in Miami, works together with local groups, Activados por Puerto Rico and YoNoMeQuito to bring supplies to Puerto Rico.
What they’re doing/have done: The groups have sent 20 shipping containers to Puerto Rico and work closely with the initiative, United for Puerto Rico/Unidos por Puerto Rico, founded by the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló, to help “rebuild the island.”
How to get involved: Monetary donations: https://www.unidosporpuertorico.com/en/
Group: The Dynamic Community Development Corporation
Who they are: This Miami nonprofit serves as a source of information to provide immediate and long-term assistance (housing, medical care, job referrals) for Puerto Ricans who arrive to Florida after being displaced by Hurricane Maria, through partnerships with the Puerto Rican Leadership Council and Miami-Dade County’s Department of Public Housing and Community Development.
What they’re doing/have done: They offer assistance with housing and employment, food vouchers, school supplies, school registration, clothing, medical care, and counseling to those who had to flee Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.