Age is only a number when it comes to being a community activist and these elementary and middle school-aged students have proven just that.
When Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in October, it left residents with limited to no access to basic essentials like food, clean water, and hygiene products while simultaneaously wiping the island of its power grid overnight.
Puerto Ricans are still struggling to access these bare necessities six weeks after the hurricane.
With the support of Councilman Ritchie Torres, the students of P.S. 9 and the Jonas Bronck Academy have stepped up and joined the relief effort by holding school fundraisers, and afterwards, a small supply packing event with the councilman and his staff.
“Just because we’re kids, we can still make a difference in the world,” Evelyn Castro, a student at JBA, said. “We decided to help at least the smallest way possible, but it turned out that the whole school helped out to the fundraiser we chose and donated over 1,000 water bottles.”
JBA’s student population of less than 300 was able to raise about $600 to purchase the water bottles.
At P.S. 9, students and staff were able to gather over 30 boxes of food, diapers, batteries and clothing.
“People say that kids can’t do anything or they’re just kids, their priorities are just to do homework and go home,” another JBA student, Emely Reyes said. “I feel like JBA and P.S. 9 just contradicted all of those sterotypes about children because here we are making a difference… and every child out there… can make a change… they are powerful.
The collaboration between the two schools and the councilman for the event only took one week to plan and deliver, according to the attendance teacher at JBA, Audrey Dejesus.
The two schools have since sent their supplies to Roberto Clemente State Park, one of five drop-off locations in the Bronx for donations to the Puerto Rico relief fund.
“If there was ever a time for those of us in the Bronx to stand up, it’s now, and wheverever there is widespread human misery we have an obligation to come to the aid of not only our fellow Americans, but humans,” Councilman Torres said about the project. “As you know, Puerto Rico is in an ever worsening humanitarian crisis and rather than stand by the sidelines, the students right here in the Bronx… have chosen to be part of the solution.”
However, these efforts do not end with their fundraiser.
While the FDNY can no longer accept any donations at their facilities, Roberto Clemente State Park will continue to take donations through the forseeable future, according to a park representative.
“It has to be an ongoing process,” Councilman Torres continued. “It’s inspiring to see young people take that initiative and set an example for the rest of us to follow.”
For information on donating funds visit www.unido