Emergency fund set up for displaced Puerto Rican families in Lebanon Co.

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Jan 3, 2018 5:22 PM

In this Friday, Sept. 29, 2017 photo, Elionet Saez Martin, of Puerto Rico, works at his desk in his kindergarten class at Chamberlain Elementary School in New Britain, Conn. As Hurricane Maria churned toward Puerto Rico, his mother put him and his 9-year-old brother, Eliot, on a plane to be with their grandfather in Connecticut. The brothers are among the first of what is expected to be large numbers of Puerto Rican children enrolling in school districts on the U.S. mainland, particularly in urban areas from Florida to Massachusetts with large Puerto Rican populations. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

(Harrisburg) -- The United Way of Lebanon County has set up an emergency fund to help displaced families from Puerto Rico. 

Hundreds of people from the island fled to the midstate after last year's devastating hurricane season.

It's not known exactly how many people moved to the county, but more than 175 children have enrolled in the Lebanon School District since October.

The United Way is hoping to raise between $15,000-$20,000 to assist them by the end of the month.

CEO Kenny Montijo says the money will go to essential needs like school supplies, food, and clothing--especially coats. 

"Many of these families are arriving from tropical areas or warmer areas and they're coming here and we're sub-freezing temperature," Montijo said. 

The nonprofit is also partnering with the school district and other organizations to set up a resource center, where newly-arrived people can get help finding employment and housing.

Montijo says he believes many of the resettled families will stay in the midstate permanently, due to the extensive damage in their homeland caused by Hurricane Maria.

Recovery has been slow in Puerto Rico, where about half the population of the U.S. territory still lacks electricity.

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