Hill School do­na­tions headed to Puerto Rico

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

“As of the first 30 hours, we es­ti­mate about $10,000 worth of sup­plies were in mo­tion di­rectly be­cause of this group.” Ian Stewart, Hill School Class of 1996

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.


Sup­plies do­nated to The Hill School are dropped off at a ware­house in Al­len­town where they were loaded onto a ship­ping con­tainer bound for 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.


Hill School stu­dents carry do­na­tions for vic­tims of Hur­ri­cane Maria to be loaded onto a bus and shipped to Puerto Rico.

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