Festival gives boost to Puerto Rico for Hurricane Maria relief

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Sunday, one group provided a big boost for Puerto Ricans in the wake of a horrific natural disaster.

It may have looked fun from the outside, but there was a very serious purpose behind a festive cultural event in Memphis.

"Everybody can't do everything unless they do it together," said volunteer Daniel Gillespie.

That's what sparked the idea for the Memphis for Puerto Rico, Puerto Rican Day Festival.

"In our culture, we're very festive, we're very colorful," said Alvis Otero with Memphis for Puerto Rico. "We like to dance and eat, and celebrate life."

But the festival was about much more than just having a good time. The group raised money and goods to send back to those affected by Hurricane Maria.

The event was filled with music, food, and even a silent auction of artwork painted by a St. Jude patient from Puerto Rico.

"Our original goal was, we set out to raise 19,000 pounds of food, so far I'm happy to report we have over 30,000," Otero said. "I mean, it's called the Volunteer State for a reason."

Though the Memphis community has been a big help with donations, there is still a lot of work to be done.

"They're part of us, they're part of America, you know?" said volunteer Laurie Leturno. "We need to help them out."

Memphis for Puerto Rico said this event won't be their last.

"To know that the people are so interested in learning about us and helping us and our families and our friends, it touches our hearts in ways that words can't describe," Otero said.

To keep up with the group's efforts, visit their Facebook page.

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