CMS Senators in Action club send everything from bottled water to pet supplies to US commonwealth
Video by jeff brown

The devastation visited upon Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria nearly two months ago may have disappeared from the headlines, but not from the hearts and minds of students at Dover’s Central Middle School.

Members of the CMS Senators in Action Club, under the tutelage of teacher Al Roach, spent the last several weeks gathering supplies for the people of the island commonwealth. Everything from bottled water to cereal to canned dog food was packed up and shipped out Wednesday afternoon.

Puerto Rico is a United States commonwealth, not a territory, and residents are American citizens.

“This is a part of our community outreach program that we dedicate a lot of time and resources to,” said Assistant Principal David Thomas. “Normally it would be for local donations, but with the recent hurricane we felt an obligation to help and assist the people of Puerto Rico.”

While helping man’s best friend might seem a little unusual when people also are in need, seventh-grader Jaimaan Gould considered the idea a no-brainer.

“I’m a real dog lover, and my brother is too,” he said. “If we were struck by a hurricane, the people in Puerto Rico would send us food for our dogs, too.”

Pastor Vanessa Brown of Victory Christian Fellowship and her church helped contribute items to the Senators in Action drive.

“I thought, what a great opportunity to be able to partner with the school in this hurricane relief effort,” Brown said.

Roach praised the middle school students for their willingness to work hard in gathering the supplies.

“Whenever I see someone in need, I try to reach out and help them, and this is one of the reasons I did this,” he said. “Puerto Rico right now is in a situation where we really have to reach out and help them, and that’s why I started this and started collecting.”

Roach contacted pastors Ennio and Maribel Garcia-Zaragoza of the Maranatha Life Changing Church in Dover to help with the logistics of moving supplies to Puerto Rico.

The church had announced it was seeking hurricane relief donations, Garcia-Zaragoza said.

“It came together like a glove,” she said, adding the supplies were shipping out of Philadelphia, with the cost borne by a ministry there.

Thomas felt it was good knowing Central Middle students wanted to get involved in something that affects the lives of others, even though they are complete strangers living more than 1,500 miles away.

“They want to help,” he said. “There is a lot of goodness in children and this is one way they can pay it forward and help when there is a need.”