Mother of deceased El Faro crew member collecting donations for Puerto Rico

NOW: Mother of El Faro crewmember works to support PR

SCARBOROUGH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A woman from Wilton will hold a supply donation drive for the people of Puerto Rico after hurricanes devastated island, and she hopes fellow Mainers will contribute.

Deb Roberts is the mother of Michael Holland, a crew member of El Faro, which was a cargo ship that sank in hurricane Joaquin in October 2015. She plans to ship needed items to the island to help people trying to rebuild their homes.

The ship that her son served on frequently travel between Jacksonville, Florida and Puerto Rico. 

With the help of Walmart, Roberts will hold the donation drive at the Scarborough Walmart starting on Saturday, November 25. Walmart has loaned a tractor-trailer truck, which Roberts hopes to fill with supplies donated by those shopping in the days following Thanksgiving.

"These are the types of things that keep me going. When it's quiet and there's not something to focus on, that's the hardest time," said Roberts. "My main focus and my main goal for this always starts with finding ways to honor Mike's legacy. For me as a grieving mom, that's the way that I've found the healing process. To help others helps my heart heal."

Roberts and her husband had plans to visit the lighthouse statue in Puerto Rico erected in honor of the 33 crewmembers who died on the ship, but could not visit because of Hurricane Maria.

"It's been in the back of my mind since then," said Roberts. 

Supplies Needed for Puerto Rico Relief Drive:

  • Chapstick or lip balm
  • Sunscreen
  • Personal water purification systems
  • Bottled water
  • Dry and regular shampoo
  • Bath wipes
  • Shower in a box
  • Deodorant
  • Lotion
  • Stand-up flashlights
  • Lanterns – battery operated
  • Batteries
  • Generators
  • Fans
  • Gas cans
  • Water cans/jugs
  • Rubber boots
  • Canned fruit
  • Rice
  • Red/black/white beans
  • Adult diapers
  • Medical bed pads
  • Nutritional supplements such as Ensure or Glucerna
  • Toilet paper
  • Antibacterial sanitizer
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Mosquito repellent
     

Roberts says Walmart will transport the tractor trailer to Jacksonville and TOTE, the company that operated El Faro, will ship the items from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico.

"It was great because I knew without that, that it was going to be the end of the line, and I just wasn't sure if it was something that would even be possible. Once I had that, I said, 'I've got this know. I can do the rest of this,'" said Roberts.

Roberts plans to collect donations on the following dates and times:

11/25: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

11/26 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

11/27 through 12/1: noon to 7 p.m.

12/2: if necessary

People may drop off donations at the Customer Service desk when the trailer is not manned.

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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