Miami Volunteers Show Heart for Cuba

Kai T. Hill is an associate web producer for CRS. She traveled to Miami to report on local parish efforts to assist storm survivors in Cuba and Haiti.

Daughters of Charity

Sister Clemencia Fernandez of the Daughters of Charity, and volunteers, Carmen Suarez and Estrella Trujillo seal boxes of donated clothes bound for flood affected areas of Cuba. Photo by Kai T. Hill/CRS

On Monday morning September 22 volunteers at the Daughters of Charity in west Miami were busy packing goods to be shipped to Cuba. While South Florida’s heat grants little mercy, the scorching temperatures were no match for the passion and tireless work of the sisters and their helpers. The entire property, which includes three adjacent homes, is totally overrun by canned and boxed food, cases of bottled water, clothes, etc.

“This is just plain charity to people who were devastated by the last hurricane,” says volunteer Mirtha Davis, who was taking phone calls from companies and families wanting to donate. “You haven’t heard anyone say how tired they are. Everyone is just happy. It’s something that we just have inside [of us].”

CRS’ relationship with the Daughters of Charity goes back more than 10 years and with its leader, Sister Hilda Alonzo, for more than 40 years. In response to the current flood devastation across Cuba, CRS is working with the Daughters and Catholic Charities to ship 170,000 pounds of donated food and relief supplies. Another 80,000 is expected to follow. “We have very good communications with and help from Catholic Relief Services,” says Sister Eva.

Volunteers have flocked to the center each day for the past three weeks since the storms first struck. Workers stand ready to unload the cars that stop by to drop off goods. Under a large tent with several blaring fans, they quickly sort the items and load them onto the shipping containers. Among the items are cans of evaporated milk, medicine, toiletries, cereal, diapers, black beans and clothing.

“Jesus Christ is over this,” says volunteer Rafael David Fondin, who eagerly pulls me aside to show me a large stock of bottled water. He took several weeks off from work to help this mission. “My position is serving [as a way] to say that Jesus loves you,”

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