Ever since Hurricane Maria decimated the island of Puerto Rico nine days ago, local Puerto Ricans have watched the aftermath from here with a growing sense of horror and desperation. Communication with the island is difficult and some families are still nervously waiting to hear from loved ones amid increasingly distressing news reports about shortages of food, water, and vital medications like insulin for diabetics and albuterol for asthmatics.

In response, Rocklanders with connections to the island have organized a fundraising event Friday, October 13from 6.30 – 9 p.m. at Broadway PIzza in Northvale, NJ (just across the Rockland border) and the Stop & Shop in Orangeburg. The entry fee will be $25 per head and organizers hope to raise $6,000 for Puerto Rico

“The daily reports are harrowing, the suffering is unimaginable,” said Jeanine Cummins, the event’s organizer, whose father’s family hails from, San Juan, the island’s capital. “There have been so many catastrophic events lately, and this one struck really close to home. I wanted to do something more active than throwing money into cyberspace. I’m blown away by the response so far, and by the generosity – everyone’s getting involved. In a challenging political climate, this is something we can all agree on: the people of Puerto Rico need our help.”

Cummins teamed up with Stephanie Shultz, manager of the High Exposure Climbing Gym in Northvale, NJ. The gym’s owner offered to forego their usual fundraising matrix because of the scale of the catastrophe, and will donate all profits from the event to Unidos por Puerto Rico, a fund established by Puerto Rico’s first lady, Beatriz Rosselló and supported by Governor Cuomo. The fund will provide aid to the people of Puerto Rico in the short term, and help rebuild the island’s devastated infrastructure in the long term.

“I hope we’ll have a great turnout on the night,” Cummins said. “The event will be a lot of fun for the kids, and the families can feel good, knowing that every penny they spend will go directly to relief efforts.”

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