Support for Puerto Rico comes to Dunkirk from Jamestown

Jamestown residents collected two truckfuls of water, baby items, toiletries and food and dropped off the items Thursday at the city of Dunkirk's drop-off point. Pictured from left are Freddie Holmes, Vidalys Colon, Vidal Colon, Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas, Dunkirk City Clerk Edwin Ramos, Billy Torres, Edwin Ortiz and Robert Rosas.

The plight of Hurricane Maria’s victims in Puerto Rico is not just felt by families and friends in Dunkirk.

Serving as the hub for donations in Chautauqua County, the city of Dunkirk received a big show of that support when two trucks arrived from Jamestown on Thursday afternoon.

The trucks and drivers were contributed by Brigiotta’s of Jamestown, but the donations themselves were collected as a community effort.

Vidal Colon and his daughter, Vidalys Colon, have family and friends living in Puerto Rico. Like many locally, they have not been able to connect with their loved ones on the island since power and phone lines went down.

“This is the only thing I could do while I wait to hear,” Vidal said.

The Colons and their local friends and family set up their own collection in Jamestown and were able to gather two truck loads worth of water, canned food, baby items and toiletries in under four days.

“This (outpouring of support) gives me hope for humanity,” Vidalys said, noting there were 520 cases of water and 55 gallons on the trucks.

It took six hours to load the truck Wednesday, but only around an hour to unload them with the help of Freddie Holmes, Vidalys’ fiance, Billy Torres, Brigiotta’s drivers and Dunkirk’s volunteers, City Clerk Edwin Ramos, Edwin Ortiz and Robert Rosas.

Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas stopped by to thank them for the donations.

“The community’s support has been amazing,” Rosas, whose mother, Rosalia, is still unaccounted for, said. “I am proud of the community that has stepped up, as well as city staff members who have not only donated, but also volunteered their time.”

Rosas added the city is expecting a shipment from Olean soon as well. The city is coordinating logistics with the Hispanic Heritage Council of Western New York in Buffalo to have donations shipped to Puerto Rico.

The city will continue to collect water, monetary and other donations at the warehouse on the corner of Washington Avenue and Lake Shore Drive from 3 to 7 p.m. every day for at least another week. Monetary donations, which are being accepted through a special account of the Dunkirk Local Development Corp. before being passed on to charitable organizations helping with the relief effort, are also being accepted in the city clerk’s office and the development office in the Stearns building during business hours until further notice.