The holidays are a time to celebrate. But for the Puerto Rican evacuees fleeing to Central Florida, the joy and festivities of the season were harder to get into.
Many have lost everything: their homes, their jobs, some have even lost family members from Hurricane Maria. While trying to figure out next steps, some families have no place to stay but a hotel. Which is why we partnered with VFW Post 4305 to bring the joy of the holiday spirit to almost 50 evacuees who are currently living in hotels.
“We don’t have a Christmas tree to put up, we can’t do our family traditions, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to give my children any presents because of the financial strain,” said Rosy, one attendee of the event who brought her three children. “The fact that we’re able to celebrate tonight with others in the same situation gives me such joy. This is bringing a little normalcy to my children’s Christmas this year and I’m so grateful for that.”
VFW Post 4305, led by Commander Dan Kalagian, distributed toys, clothing and household goods for attendees. A delicious dinner was catered by Sonny’s BBQ. The traditional Puerto Rican performance of Paranda and dancing was the highlight for many that evening. The kids had a chance to take photos with Mr. and Mrs. Clause and play plenty of video games all evening long.
“It was our pleasure to do something to help make these citizens feel a little more at home in our community this year,” said Kalagian. “Service members are often deployed and away from home for the holidays, so we understand what that feels like. I’m glad we were able to bring some holiday joy to these families.”
To see pictures of all the fun we had, check out our Facebook post.