Hill School donations headed to Puerto Rico
POTTSTOWN » Members of The Hill School boys’ hockey team loaded Hill’s “Big Blue” school bus with supplies meant for Puerto Rico’s hurricane victims.
Loaded were 60 cases of water; 24 large cases of diapers; 50 flashlights with batteries and extra batteries; 15 large boxes of canned food; 24 boxes full of dry goods ranging from cereal to Ramen noodles; and 12 large boxes of toiletries and personal sanitary items.
Hill Instructor of Computer Science Damian Baraty, along with Heather Gelting, human resources director, and Lisa Demetrio, Sodexo dining manager, then drove the bus to Allentown to deliver the supplies to be shipped to Puerto Rico.
This effort was part of a larger endeavor led by Mrs. Demetrio’s neighbor, Ty Solis, a Pottstown resident and native of Puerto Rico. Solis’ family resides in Patillas, Puerto Rico, one of the many areas of the island that has suffered great devastation in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
In just 10 days, students, faculty, and staff, and the greater Pottstown community came together to support the people of Puerto Rico to collect the greatly needed items. After an initial call for assistance in an email sent to our community by Gelting, and publicity from local press, The Hill School’s Business Office and Gatehouse soon became temporary collection centers as Hill employees, parents, and community members generously dropped off basic need and emergency items, as well as monetary donations.
In addition to the collection, Quin Mastrangelo 2018, president of the campus Young Republicans Club, organized a bake sale to raise money for this effort.
His sale amassed $300, which was added to the contributions, for a total of $2,058.
Quin accompanied Gelting and Demetrio to the local Costco to purchase additional items, which were included in the delivery to Allentown and then transported via a shipping container that Solis had arranged to have safely delivered to Patillas.
“We estimate that more than $3,500 of goods were donated on Friday, although it’s very hard to put a value on all the donated items dropped off,” remarked Heather. “It really was an amazing effort.”
Water for Puerto Rico
While The Hill drive has concluded, the need for assistance by residents of Puerto Rico is ongoing. For those still wishing to help, Hill alumnus and resident of San Juan, Alejandro Calaf Reichard and his Hill classmate, Ian Stewart, both class of 1996, have created a Facebook effort, Water for Puerto Rico.
They are collecting various basic need and emergency supplies, in particular water filters and filtering systems. All items are being sent directly to Reichard who will travel to the affected neighborhoods to distribute to those who need it most in Puerto Rico.
The efforts of Reichard and Stewart have reached across the world, thanks in part to their strong Hill ties and connections with classmates and other Hill alumni. What started as a small grassroots effort on Facebook to collect resources for clean water has now grown into a group nearly 400 strong with a growing list of initiatives, including connecting charitable organizations with donors and cancer patients with stateside hospitals.
“What started as one package being sent, has evolved into a group conversation on Facebook,” said Stewart. “From there it has grown into a group with more than 350 members. As of the first 30 hours, we estimate about $10,000 worth of supplies were in motion directly because of this group.”
While Reichard and Stewart are focused on the immediate needs of residents of the island, they also recognize that this is just the beginning, and they are committed to assisting with the reconstruction of Puerto Rico.
“After things get settled with water and the aid gets to the last person in need, the reconstruction begins,” noted Reichard. “Ian and I know the need here for helping people reconstruct their homes and lives is long, and it’s a complicated issue altogether.”
“We figure we can keep our initiative going by evolving it into getting building supplies to those who need it the most, in particular the basics which we can’t make in Puerto Rico, including wood, nails, nuts, bolts, and washers,” he said.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can help, “Like” the Water for Puerto Rico Facebook page or request to join the group planning page. Reichard is very active on the page, posting updates, news, and videos of his travels. A “Wish List” of items also is available on Amazon. com, which can be ordered and shipped directly to Alejandro in San Juan.
Reichard plans to be at Patillas when the donations from The Hill School and Pottstown arrive on the island.
Members of The Hill School’s hockey team load donated supplies into a bus that took them to a container that will be shipped to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.
Quin Mastrangelo, center, is joined by Heather Gelting and Lisa Demetrio purchasing supplies in Costco with money he made from a bake sale at The Hill School.