H20 for Puerto Rico unites community in common effort

The fundraiser collects water to provide relief for Hurricane Maria victims


Josh Oxenhorn

Schreiber collected donations of water bottles from students in the main lobby

Julia Oppenheim, Contributing Writer

“H20 for Puerto Rico” is a fundraiser involved with providing aid for Puerto Ricans who were impacted by Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island and its inhabitants.  Senator Elaine Phillips teamed up with Long Island Cares to become a part of a nationwide relief effort.  Schreiber contributed to the effort by collecting donations from Oct. 2 through Nov. 3 in the  main lobby.  Students were encouraged to donate potable drinking water in any form, from pint-sized bottles to large containers.

“Donating to this fundraiser was extremely important to me,” said junior Carly Hecht. “I am able to contribute to a major event and it felt amazing that my donation was going to help someone who was in need.”

Hurricane Maria, a powerful category 4 storm, hit Puerto Rico on Sep. 20, leaving mass destruction in its wake. The storm swept across the island and left almost one million people without electricity.  In the absence of power, the pumps and filter systems were unable to function.  This has become a true crisis, and Schreiber, along with the rest of the Port Washington community, made an effort to provide clean water to those in need.

“I am very fortunate to be able to have clean water that I can access easily and drink when I want, but sadly others aren’t as fortunate,” said sophomore Tobey Tick.

Unlike many fundraisers in the school, H2O for Puerto Rico is a community-wide fundraiser.  This fundraiser provides an opportunity for all of Port Washington to come together to lend a hand.

“I bought a twenty-four pack of Poland Spring water bottles from Rite Aid,” said sophomore Zach Marx. “It feels great to be able to help.”

Elaine Phillips and her team have partnered with 49 organizations, including schools, houses of worship, villages and civic associations.  They have also partnered with JFK airport’s Customs and Boarder Protection. So far, they have collected approximately 40,000 bottles of water and have yet to pick up from 47 locations. The online drive runs until Dec. 31.

“As Long Islanders we know first-hand the importance of safe drinking water and have made it our priority to protect our sole source water aquifers for future generations,” said Ms. Phillips.  “Right now, millions of residents of Puerto Rico are in dire need of clean drinking water following the devastation from Hurricane Maria.”

The water is being sent to the Long Island Central Donation Center at the New York State office building in Hauppauge and then the National Guard is taking it to Puerto Rico.  The water is landing in San Juan.

“It was honestly so eye-opening when I saw the gallons of water that were donated by the students and teachers,” said senior Nealie Silverstein. “The people of Puerto Rico will really appreciate our help, and knowing that I impacted someone’s day in a positive way is an awesome feeling.”