Hurricane relief funds sought by local group

WESTFIELD—The Westfield Spanish-American Association is gathering donations for relief efforts following the devastation of Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria.

The Westfield Spanish-American Association (WSAA) will be seeking donations at area Westfield Bank locations, the Westfield Boys and Girls Club, Westfield YMCA and the Westfield Schools superintendent’s office, which will go toward helping the US territory. While donations of some items are being taken, WSAA is looking for chiefly financial donations at these locations because the money could help to get the island’s economy back on track, according to WSAA co-founder Eddie Diaz.

“The main thing is looking for financial donations because they’re easier to get down there and it helps the local and regional economy down there,” Eddie Diaz said.

“Does us no good if we’re buying all this stuff. You’re going to deprive all the stores and businesses that need to get back on their feet,” he said.

Westfield Bank, who is working with the efforts by collecting donations at their 21 branches, said that in addition to the money they collect they will be matching that amount and donating it to the effort. All employees who donate will also be allowed to “dress-down” at the banks, and customers will also be encouraged to donate.

For Liz Diaz, Eddie’s wife and payroll administrator for Westfield Bank, as well as Eddie Diaz, the efforts include helping family.

“For me, I grew up there, I have family there,” Liz Diaz said. “We have employees with family there. It was tragic and devastating to everybody.”

Liz Diaz said that family members in Puerto Rico include her mother, an uncle and cousin, all of which were heard from and safe last time they spoke. She said that her uncle had to drive two and a half hours to reach Liz’s mother to check on her.

Eddie Diaz said his family member, a cousin, said that they were okay, as well.

According to Eddie Diaz, WSAA is working with Western Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico to collect donations in the area, which includes Chicopee, Holyoke, Springfield and Westfield. He said that no water or foodstuffs are being sought for donation.

If items are going to be donated, then a specific list of items are desired. This list includes batteries, flashlights, water purifying tablets, soaps, disinfectants, first aid kits, tool kits and mosquito nets.

The donation collection will begin on Monday, Oct. 2, and will continue through Oct. 6.  

If you would like to send in a donation, you can send it to WSAA at PO Box 2386, Westfield. Checks should be written out to Western Mass. Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief Fund.

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