In mid-September, Hurricane Maria swept through the Caribbean, leaving a path of destruction in its wake, and washing out the entire island of Puerto Rico.
The U.S. territory is home to more than 3.4 million people who have been left stranded for weeks, with more than 92 percent of the island still without electricity, extremely limited access to food and water, and very little relief from the motherland—the continental U.S.
The calamitous storm has left at least 45 dead across the Caribbean.
These were the streets I grew up in to think I walked up n down this road always filled with smiles live music n love but now this…beauty always comes after disaster 🙏🏼 keep your head up #PuertoRico #huricanemaria #Manati
But not all hope is lost, as more and more Hollywood names are stepping up to support our neighbors in Puerto Rico, and help rebuild what Bethenny Frankel calls a “forgotten island.”
Joining the cause this week is Jennifer Aniston.
The actress reportedly made a $500,000 donation to the American Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts, as well as a second $500,000 donation to the Ricky Martin Foundation to aid survivors of Hurricane Maria.
“She is concerned that so much is still needed to be done for the victims of these recent hurricanes, especially Puerto Rico where there is still no power to most of the island,” a source told E! News. “She hopes this inspires others to give what they can.”
Her encouragement is simple but powerful, in that we all have the capacity to do something. You don’t have to be a Hollywood hotshot with a multi-million dollar bank account to help make a difference in Puerto Rico.
Here are just a few of the ways you can support Hurricane Maria Relief efforts:
United for Puerto Rico, an initiative launched by the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló, has broken down the supplies they need into two separate categories: emergency and construction.
You can make contributions by visiting the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster page here, and selecting Puerto Rico as the recipient.
- Emergency supplies: bottled water, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, diapers, canned foods, dry foods, baby formula, garbage bags, towels, canned milk, canned and dry pet food, baby and adult pain relief medicine, stomach and diarrhea relief medicine, mosquito repellant, blankets, pillows, first-aid kits, laundry detergents, dish soap and cots.
- Construction supplies: extension cords, ground fault protectors, pop-up canopies, shovels, wheelbarrows, crowbars, hammers, utility knives, work gloves, wood panels, electric generators, electric cables, tarp, ropes, chainsaws and safety glasses.
Donate Miles & Points
Several frequent flyer programs have the option of donating your miles and points, and in most cases they can be used for more than just travel. Some airlines may even offer bonus miles for your donation.
- United — Through United’s MileagePlus charity program, you can make mile donations. You must donate at least 1,000 miles via the MileagePlus Service Center or by calling 1-800-421-4655.
- Delta — Donate your SkyMiles through the Delta SkyWish website in order to help a number of organizations, such as the Red Cross.
- American — You can donate your miles in 1,000-mile increments to the airline’s donation program, which supports humanitarian efforts around the country.
- Southwest — You can donate at least 2,000 Rapid Rewards points and in increments of 500 points thereafter through the Rapid Rewards donation program.
Providing people with the necessary supplies to rebuild their life, along with an entire island, means that nonprofit organizations rely heavily on cash donations. Listed are just a few of the organizations accepting financial contributions:
- United for Puerto Rico — Started by the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló, the organization provides aid and support for people affected by both Hurricanes Irma and Maria. You can donate cash via Paypal.
- GlobalGiving — This fund will help bring emergency supplies like food, water and medicine to residents. It’ll also go toward longer-term rebuilding and recovery efforts. You can donate cash via GlobalGiving.
- UNICEF — The organization is mobilizing to get immediate, critical support to the children of Puerto Rico affected by Maria. You can donate cash via UNICEF.