Berks pitches in to help victims of recent hurricanes

READING, Pa. - Trucks in Berks County are being loaded with donations that will soon be en route to Florida and Puerto Rico to help the victims of Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma.

Many local residents who have family in Puerto Rico have not been able to reach their loved ones after Maria made landfall on Wednesday. Instead of waiting, however, they're jumping into action.

"We got a team that we call Team Marrero. That's why we're here. We just call the team and [said], 'Everybody, we gotta get together,'" Antonio Marrero told 69 News.

His auto repair shop, Marrero Auto Service in the 1200 block of Butler Street in Reading, has turned into a donation dropoff site.

On Friday, a box truck was loaded with items like hygiene products, diapers, canned food, and water. That afternoon, the truck made its way to Philadelphia, where an organization will ship the items to Puerto Rico.

Marrero said he'll be making another trip to Philadelphia on Wednesday with a second round of donations.

Folks can continue to drop of items at the shop on Saturday from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. and on Monday and Tuesday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. He added he is not accepting cash donations -- only items.

The Reading Jeep Association is also getting the word out about collection drives across the city, including Villalba Deli & Grocery in the 1200 block of Schuylkill Avenue.

On Friday, the first donations were collected, and the store plans to run the dropoff site through the weekend.

Also on Friday night, Governor Mifflin High School served as a donation collection site for those devastated by Hurricane Irma in Florida. The student government association organized the donation drive at the football game between Governor Mifflin and Exeter.

"It is so wonderful how people are coming together to bring all these goods to help the community," said Mark Andrus, a junior and member of SGA.

A large trailer was filled with items like cases of water, pillows, and hygiene kits put together by the district's students.

"I cannot tell you how excited I am,"  said Karen Redford, a teacher and co-adviser for SGA. "I have been walking around with chills all day just knowing that through [the students'] efforts we got this trailer, through their efforts they've really pushed their friends and their families and everybody they know spreading the word on social media to try and get people here. I'm so proud of these kids."

The school district's collection will continue through Wednesday. Then, the tractor trailer will head to Florida on October 2.

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