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November 30, 2017, San Turce, Puerto Rico – Sister Donna Markham, OP, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), presented $3 million to help the local relief agency, Caritas, in its efforts to aid people affected by Hurricane Maria. During her visit, she took the opportunity to tour the devastation left by the hurricane.
“The situation is extremely dire,” especially for people who lived in wooden houses, which were destroyed, Sister Donna said. Along with the massive devastation, the ongoing power outage makes it impossible for people to cook.
“We’re trying to provide people with camping stoves, generators, water, and food – anything that will help them to survive.” She also believes that much of CCUSA’s funds will be spent to help find safe housing for the elderly and others who are vulnerable.
Sister Donna explained that, while she had traveled to Puerto Rico alone, case managers, disaster coordinators, and other CCUSA staff were already on the ground. CCUSA is the official disaster relief agency of the U.S. Catholic Church.
CCUSA also worked with other organizations to offer support to the people of Puerto Rico. Home Depot helped with a grant to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to assist with rebuilding. The Houston Astros loaned CCUSA an airplane to fly supplies to Puerto Rico. “People have been very generous,” Sister Donna noted.
Sister Donna also hoped to visit the Virgin Islands, which was even harder hit than Puerto Rico. CCUSA has given the relief effort of the Virgin Islands $2 million in donations. In addition, $7 million in donations was given to the relief efforts in Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas, and $6 million for efforts in Florida.
CCUSA has received much public support for its relief efforts, as well as its ongoing efforts to fight poverty and to “serve people in need, with special concern for those who are the poorest and most vulnerable in society,” according to its website. The organization recently received a donation of $1,500 from students at Blessed Sacrament School in Alexandria, Virginia, for relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
CCUSA has also received national recognition from NASDAQ. Charles C. Cornelio, Chair of the CCUSA Board of Trustees, was invited to ring the opening bell on Giving Tuesday, November 28.