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Small business owners collect donations for Puerto Rico

Many still haven't heard from family on the island

WINTER PARK, Fla. – Small businesses across Florida are answering the call to help Hurricane Maria-ravaged Puerto Rico.

Justin Laboy, owner of Winter Park Tint, has a small collection of baby formula, water, food, clothing and cleaning supplies. He said he is preparing to be ship the supplies to the island. He even found the owner of a small plane who offered to send the supplies for free.

The island is 100 percent without power, cellphone towers are down and many of the homes and businesses were destroyed, according to local officials. Laboy, who is from Puerto Rico, said his mother and other family members are still there, but he hasn't spoken to them in three days and has no idea how they fared in Hurricane Maria.

“I just hope everybody's good,” Laboy said. “I try to keep strong, but I got to do what I got to do.”

However, Laboy can't do it by himself, so he's asking for help from community members to continue to fill those boxes before he ships them. Anyone who would like to help can drop off essentials to Winter Park Tint, 633 N Orlando Ave, Winter Park.

More Puerto Rican business owners and organizations have mobilized to help their native island.

On Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., John Collazo said he will open his business, Bad As’s sandwich shop in the Milk District, as a drop-off site for donations. Items like water, batteries and canned food will be collected and 30 percent of the business's proceeds for the day will go to relief efforts. 

Also on Sunday, organizers of a concert in Kissimmee will collect donations starting at 5 p.m. at 2031 Simpson Road.

There are several other ways to help in the effort, including taking those donations to Acacia Florida at 1865 N Econlockhatchee Tr. Orlando, PRFAA at 15 S. Orlando Ave., Kissimmee, at www.unitedforpuertorico.com or by using the social media hashtag #prayforpuertorico.

On Thursday, these donations sites were added around Central Florida:

  • De La Torre Law 33 East Robinson St. Suite 222 Orlando, Fla. (9 a.m. - 5 p.m.)
  • Lim Law 805 Verona St. Kissimmee, Fla.
  • Eclat Law LLp 2180 W. State Rd. 434 Suite 2100 Longwood, Fla.
  • Payas, Payas, Payas 12934 Deer trace Ave. Orlando, Fla.

Officials with the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration said people can call these numbers to help find information about family members:

1-202-778-0710
1-787-777-0940
1-877-976-2400