Janet Cruz, Tampa non-profit join forces to aid Puerto Rico - Florida Politics

Janet Cruz, Tampa non-profit join forces to aid Puerto Rico

Since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico 22 days ago, House Minority Leader Janet Cruz has traveled there twice to provide much-needed help to those struggling residents.

Now the Tampa Democrat is helping get ready a third shipment of goods.

On Wednesday, Cruz traveled with 30,000 pounds of relief supplies to Puerto Rico, her second trip to the ravaged island in 10 days.

After returning from the island last week with a group of Democrats — including DNC Chair Tom Perez — Cruz was motivated to help other organizations. That’s when she learned about Course of Action, a Tampa based nonprofit group formed in the wake of the storm to help those in Puerto Rico.

Led by retired U.S. Air Force Colonel E.J. Otero, the group has collected more than 2 million pounds of essential supplies over the past three weeks, transporting those goods by both air and sea.

After receiving a quote of $40,000 for a shipment, Otero put the word out to Cruz to see if she help in finding financing for the trip. She did, garnering contributions of $10,000 from the New York Yankees, $5,000 from the Tampa Bay Lightning, $5,000 from the India Festival Tampa Bay, $5,000 from AMSCOT, and the remaining $25,000 from private donations.

A total of 150,000 lbs. of supplies containing water, generators, food, diapers, hygiene items, first aid, shovels, chainsaws, food will be shipped next week. The shipment was originally going to go Wednesday, but will now depart from Tampa  October 17, returning October 24.

Officials with Course of Action say that they currently have plenty of water and clothing, but there are still many other items that can be donated. A link on the group’s website goes to an Amazon wishlist of products.

For more information, you can go to Course of Action’s website.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.
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