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Emotional Send-off For Ohio Aid Meant For Puerto Rico

Supplies at the IX Center awaiting shipment to Puerto Rico. (Nick Castele / ideastream)

“The first thing I want to say is hallelujah!” said an emotional Margie Colon at the IX Center Monday.

Community members held a send-off for some 500,000 lbs. of supplies, food, and water meant for Puerto Rico, still in desperate need for aid after Hurricane Maria.

Colon is one of the organizers of the effort. She’s a Metrohealth employee, and also a member of the group Latin American Academics, Athletics and Arts.

COLON: “What I saw as a Hispanic born in Puerto Rico, what I saw was unity, not just among our race, but among all races. And I think that’s what affected me the most. And it goes to show that we can do it, if we just stick together as a people.”

Margie Colon speaks at the IX Center in front of supplies meant for Puerto Rico. (Screenshot from WKYC)

Colon spoke passionately about the strength of community she’s seen in the local aid effort, but with equal passion about the condition of Puerto Rico and the mission ahead.

COLON: “…how the road have been demolished, how houses have fallen, how people have been buried because there was no sacred way of doing it, how kids didn’t have water or food—there’s a lot that I can tell you, and I’m going back.  I’m going back to finish what we started.”

The supplies will get to Puerto Rico with help from Feeding America, a network of some 200 foodbanks in the U.S. including on the island.

Karen Pozna of Greater Cleveland Food Bank said Feeding America already distributed 2.5 million pounds of aid in Puerto Rico.  And the Cleveland food bank itself has stayed engaged after recent disasters…

POZNA: “The Greater Cleveland Food Bank alone has sent two semis to Houston, as well as staff, and we’ve also sent a staff person, Minerva, she just returned from Puerto Rico helping the food bank there, and being on the front lines of the disaster.”

The 450 pallets of Northeast Ohio supplies were set to leave the IX Center Monday, on their way to Puerto Rico.

A number of the pallets are marked for specific churches or groups on the island which have local Ohio ties.

Organizers hope it helps, in a still long road to recovery.

Tony Ganzer has reported from Phoenix to Cairo, and was the host of 90.3's "All Things Considered." He was previously a correspondent with the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, covering issues like Swiss banks, Parliament, and refugees. He earned an M.A. in International Relations (University of Leicester); and a B.Sc. in Journalism (University of Idaho.) He speaks German, and a bit of French.