More than $ 5,000 was raised at an event filled with lively music, hot food and the spirit of generosity at the Puerto Rican Society in Waukegan on Wednesday.
The $ 5,236 collected that night will go to the Puerto Rico Help Fund, which helps in recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in September.
The Climate Action for Lake County and Puerto Rico event was organized by the Sierra Club, along with the president of the Lake County board, the Puerto Rican society, Power Lake County.
Its objective was to collect money and articles for the people of Puerto Rico, who, after almost two and a half months, continue to live without basic needs such as water and electricity in many parts of the country. the island.
The event was also an opportunity to reinforce the efforts of the group members and their followers towards a more sustainable way of life and a cleaner environment.
In the event of Wednesday, the Puerto Rican Society Presidency and Lucy Rios gave a description of Puerto Rico, before making a request for donations to the more than 100 guests that attended, which included many local elected officials.
"The population of Puerto Rico is 4 million people as of the 2016 census, with 78 municipalities and approximately 5,385 miles of rivers, said Rios.
Adding that after the hurricane, thousands left the island to escaping the consequences of the disaster, Rios said that thousands of people still remain there in need of assistance to rebuild their homes and municipalities.
A goal to buy 200 solar lights with the money collected during the night was initiated by an anonymous donor – just described as a resident of Waukegan – who made donations of up to $ 1,500.
"Let's turn on Puerto Rico," Rios said, as the people at the tables began writing their checks and rummaging through their pockets for the bottom.
The money raised will go to a nonprofit organization called Casa Pueblo, said Ríos, who will distribute solar lights to homes where they need them.
Lake County will receive this Additional assistance in the form of collected items, such as tolerance, bottled water and lanterns, will be delivered in two weeks, said Ríos. .
And on Saturday, a member of the Puerto Rican Society will travel to Puerto Rico to personally deliver another fundraising goal established by the Waukegan organization.
According to Ríos, a check for $ 30,000 will be donated to Caritas de Puerto Rico, an organization of Catholic Charities in Puerto Rico that will distribute the money to the different municipalities, according to the needs.
The money was raised in a week, and Rios said it was thanks to many established members of the Puerto Rican Society, but also to people who had never approached the organization before.
"We saw many new faces who donated money from their hearts," Ríos said.
Others who contributed to the fund were recognized at the event.
The Waukegan High School JROTC presented a check for $ 850 to Rios, and the members of the Chapter of Sigma Phi Zeta, based in Waukegan, were applauded for their donations, as well.
The good news of the night was not only reserved for the people of Puerto Rico, since Clean Power for Lake County welcomed a new member to take the Lake County Climate Action Commitment.
On Wednesday, Faith in Place became the first organization to partner with Climate Action of Lake County.
Lake County Outreach Director Celeste Flores said it was a privilege to join forces with friends.
"We have been on the front lines, organizing in communities, developing leaders and partnering with organizations that bring successes and victories in environmental justice," Flores said.
"We are committed to empowering people of faith to be leaders in the care of the Planet, by providing resources to educate, connect and advocate for a healthier Lake County," Flores added. "We are stronger when we are together."
Lawlor also spoke, addressing the crowd in Spanish, saying in both languages that although efforts to change the world can sometimes seem discouraging, work that can be done locally is more manageable and perhaps more necessary and gratifying.
The chairman of the County Board asked the crowd if they could change one thing, what would it be?
"Would you join me in eliminating the greatest source of point pollution in Lake County, so that perhaps an asthmatic child you know could breathe better?" Lawlor asked, referring to the effort to move away from the power derived from fossil fuels.
Another idea, Lawlor added, would be "seeking the revitalization of Lake Waukegan."
Yadira Sánchez Olson is an independent reporter for News-Sun.